Parent Input Statement: An IEP Must Have

student, typing, keyboard

If you read the headline and are now thinking – I’ve never written a parent input statement for my child’s IEP. Don’t worry – you are not alone.

Take a minute and skim your child’s IEP. Do you see the section in the Present Levels that says, “Parent Input?” Is yours a short sentence or two?

We read many IEPs where the parent input statement is one or two sentences. To top it off, the sentences are typically so generic, the information is not helpful for the individual child. Keep in mind – this is not your fault. More often than not, the statements are written by the school team member who is taking notes. The statement comes from the conversations during the meeting – not a direct response from the parents.

Many parents of children with IEPs do not know they can submit a letter for the parent input section. How could you know? Schools typically do not explain each section of an IEP. Special education parents are often left to your own devices to learn the law and the IEP process.

Here are some parent input statements we have recently read:

  • “Mom says child is frustrated.”
  • “Child gets nervous before school and doesn’t want to attend.”
  • “Mom explained child needs extra assistance reading. She has trouble focusing.”

If a stranger read any of the above statements, would she have a good, overall understanding of your child? Probably not.

Please don’t be upset with yourself if your child’s IEP contains similar statements. We’re going to fix it right now.

Let’s jump right in to how to fix this all too often problem so you can have a useful parent input statement on the next IEP.

Done correctly, a parent input statement on an IEP is simply a letter from you to the rest of the IEP team members, and whomever else will read the IEP, explaining your child from your point of view. Always keep in mind, the IEP will likely be read by new people in your child’s life (especially teachers) who may have just met your child. You want the teacher to understand your child.

Your parent input statement does not have to be gorgeous. You can bullet point the all-important information only you can provide. Always remember you know your child best.

Here’s a simple outline you can follow for your parent input letter:

  • Start by thanking the team for scheduling the meeting on (insert date).
  • Explain you are providing the letter so the team can have a better understanding of your child from your point of view.
  • Bullet point your thoughts. Here are a few ideas:

– A brief explanation of your child’s strengths, weaknesses, likes, and dislikes. Does he enjoy reading about sports? Does he have trouble sitting still and staying focused after 10 minutes? Would he prefer to spend time alone?

-Your observations of your child while he completes schoolwork. Does he get frustrated with math? Do you have to consistently remind him to stay focused? Do you and your husband spend hours upon hours helping him complete his assignments? Does he love to read?

-Areas where you believe he needs additional assistance.

-A potential list of accommodations you know will help him. Examples include, having a snack midday to keep his energy up, taking tests in a quiet location without any distractions, have a safe person to go to when he feels anxious, and a visual schedule provided to him each morning.

  • At the end of your letter, make sure you include the following sentence:

Please include this letter in the parent input section of my child’s IEP.

Take your time when you write the letter. Jot down your thoughts, put the letter away for a day or two, then come back to the letter and revise. When we help special education parents write their parent statement, the process typically takes 2-3 drafts to get the letter “right.”

When written correctly, the parent input statement is a powerful part of your child’s IEP.

Happy writing!

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