IEP meetings are super stressful, and full of more jargon than the Marine Corps. I’ve been in my fair share of these meetings, and I can tell you that parents who are prepared get what they want more often.
Get the best for your child, with a few easy tips to get ready for your IEP meeting!
1. Check the old IEP
If this isn’t your first rodeo, pull out the old IEP and any progress reports you have. It’s super important to keep your copies of these documents. They will show your child’s progress or lack of progress.
Double check their current accommodations and modifications. Compare the things they should be receiving to their progress.
If they ARE making progress and meeting benchmarks, great! Fight to keep the current education plans are kept. If your child is NOT making progress, you need to be prepared to go to the mat to switch things up.
2. Read the assessment reports
If this IS your first IEP meeting, you definitely need to read all of the testing reports you were given. Yes, they are written in confusing language. Ask the classroom teacher or special education teacher to figure out what everything means.
For experienced parents, ask to review any new benchmark testing and classroom tests the teacher has given. Especially do this in all the subjects that your child is receiving supports.
3. Talk to the classroom teacher
Seriously, do this. This person spends all day, every week day with your child. He or she sees how your child REALLY acts in the classroom and just how much work Junior can actually do.
If you walk into the meeting thinking that your child is working at one level, and suddenly learn she is much lower, it can be shocking. Be prepared!
Seriously, though. It’s what teachers do when they have a tough student! Based on what you heard from the teacher, what you see at home and what you read in the report(s), try to find a few techniques that might help.
If you child has attention issues, suggest a wiggle seat, an exercise ball or a standing desk. For kids with organizational issues, try graphic organizers, checklists or work progress charts. There are TONS of options out there!
And if you offer solutions instead of just criticism, the education team is more likely to listen.
5. Bring everything to the meeting
Bring the test results, the report cards, the progress reports, notes from doctors, your own observation and anything from an out of school providers.
Definitely make sure to have the preliminary IEP draft. And write your thoughts or desired changes on sticky notes.
6. Be clear
These meetings can get contentious! If there are big sticking points that you want to change, make sure you clearly say what you are seeing and what you need to happen.
State exactly what is “wrong,” and why. Then offer solutions. Explain why you think your suggestions might work.
7. Disagree, respectfully
Know that the school and teachers are restricted by staffing, funding and schedules. Even when they agree with your request for X, they simply might not have a person to provide that service or to provide it as much as you want or money to buy the brand name equipment it requires.
When you don’t see eye to eye, try your best to find a compromise. Know that schools don’t deny services because they “feel like it.” They base their decisions on education best practices, research and the data about your child that they already have.
8. Know you have options
Should things REALLY go downhill, know that you have options and rights.
You have the right to decline the new IEP entirely: just don’t sign it! The old IEP will remain in place until a new plan is agreed on.
You have the right to mediation to help resolve disputes.
How do you prepare for IEP meetings?