As a special education parent, attending IEP meetings can be overwhelming. We understand, so let’s get right into it.
Here are 5 tips for a better IEP meeting:
- Be Prepared – At least a few days before the scheduled IEP meeting, carve some time out of your day to write down your thoughts. Think about questions or concerns you have had since the last meeting. List areas where you have seen improvements. Prepare an agenda of the topics you would like to discuss with the team. Bring these notes to the meeting to help keep you on track.
- Keep Your Child Front and Center. Make sure the focus stays on your child. After all, he is the reason you all are meeting. Always remember you know your special needs child best. Explain to the IEP team your child’s strengths and weaknesses. Let them know what he likes and dislikes. IEPs are meant to be individualized. By keeping the focus on your child, the team is more likely to see him as a person and not just a statistic.
- Speak Up When You Have A Question. All the acronyms in special education can be confusing – FAPE, IEE, BIP, LRE, etc. Add in legal jargon with a mix of nerves, and the meeting can quickly become overwhelming. If you find yourself a bit lost during the meeting, politely ask the team to pause for a moment and ask any questions you have to clarify a discussion or topic.
- Review Your Child’s File. Before the meeting review your child’s educational file. This may include the last IEP, current reports, test scores, teacher comments, etc. Make notes when needed. This will help you see where your child has improved or find areas that may need more focus. While you are reviewing, take some time to also read over your school district’s policies and procedures so you can be assured your and your child’s rights are being upheld.
- Be Cordial. As difficult as it may be, keep your emotions in check. Your child’s school and teachers are likely doing the best they can. If you disagree on how your child’s school is handling things, politely explain your position. Your thoughts and concerns are probably correct, so keep in mind the best way to reach an agreement is to keep all negotiations cordial. Fixing problems becomes difficult once someone goes on the defensive.
IEP meetings will probably never be easy, but with good preparation the meetings will certainly become less overwhelming.
If you need guidance and strategies for your child’s next IEP meeting, we are here to help you. Schedule an IEP Strategy Session by calling us at 843-593-8121 or by completing this contact form.