5 Tips To Help You Prepare For Your IEP Meeting
Ask any parent with a child on an Individualized Education Program (IEP) – IEP’s can be stressful! For some, they’ve struggled for years to ensure their child has access to the tools and strategies they need for success in the classroom. For other parents who are new to the IEP process, it can feel overwhelming and confusing.
As a parent of a Complex Learner, you are an integral part of your child’s educational team. When it comes to IEP meetings, you play a critical role and your insight matters! To feel confident and capable when it comes to your next IEP meeting, it’s all about preparation! We spoke with Wolf’s Director of Special Education, Lauren Duffy Karlsson, about what parents can do to help prepare. Take a look below for 5 ways you can prepare for your next IEP meeting!
1. Review The IEP
Reviewing your child’s current IEP prior to the meeting is a great place to start. For some, it can also be useful to request a blank copy of the IEP form to write your initial thoughts on. This helps you not only organize your own thoughts or questions but you can then compare what you wrote on the blank form to the current document.
After reviewing the current IEP, this can be the perfect time to then update your parent vision statement and think about any additional participants you may want to attend the meeting.
Like with so many things in life – communication is key! Reach out to your child’s team before the meeting to check in. Use this time to talk about how things are going and mention any areas of focus you would like to see addressed – like a social area that you’d like to strengthen in addition to academics! Chances are your child’s team will have great connections and recommendations to make when it comes to new areas of focus.
The team wants your child to be successful just as much as you do so don’t be afraid to communicate with them. Ask about what additional evaluations will be considered. As our Director of Special Education puts it – “We want the document to service your whole child, for you to know what to expect, and for us to have a solid plan to propose at the start of the meeting.”
3. Trust Your Gut
While you have a team of professionals at the table, don’t ever underestimate your own knowledge and the power of your contributions! You know your child! In fact, no one knows your child better than you.
So, as you’re getting ready for your next IEP meeting, take a look at the accommodations pages and ask yourself, “is this capturing my child’s needs?” Take notes and write down questions to ask about anything that makes you pause. You know your child’s strengths, challenges, preferences, and all nuances in between. Your child’s team wants you to share so we can ensure that the IEP is a solid tool to support success.
4. Don’t Be Afraid to Ask
Whether it’s raising a concern or asking for clarification, don’t be afraid to ask the question. And, even after a meeting is held, you can take some time with the document and ask clarifying questions before anything is finalized.
As part of your review process, you can request a draft of updated goals prior to the meeting. Most teams have an idea of goals and goal areas ahead of time, and many teams are able to provide proposed goals for consideration ahead of the meeting time. While not all schools are able to do this, it never hurts to ask! This will allow you time to process and formulate questions at the meeting.
5. Trust The Process
While it’s critical that you trust your team, it’s also important to remember that it’s a process. Once the IEP meeting is over, your work isn’t done. You will be turning to and referencing this document all year long so make sure that you feel comfortable with it.
The goals on an IEP are just a snapshot of what will be addressed in a given year, but to ensure you’re set up for continued success all year long, make sure the goals that are written are clearly measurable. This will help you better understand your progress reports, and also serve as a clear point of reference when you have questions.
It can be easy to feel overwhelmed during the IEP process. But you’re not alone. You have a team of dedicated professionals working with you towards the same goals. Even after the IEP is finalized, you are all still on the same team – communicating, tracking progress, noting what’s working and what needs to be adjusted.
IEPs can be stressful, but they can also be a celebration of a student’s efforts and achievements, and at Wolf, we consider it a privilege to map that journey through their individualized plans!
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