IEP — what is that?
When I first heard the phrase and understood it had to do with my child and his education, I knew I was out of my depth. IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan, which basically means it is a plan tailored to a child struggling with disabilities to help aid in their learning.
IEP Meetings are important. Not only for you as a parent to learn what plan is being put into place for your child’s education, but it’s also a guide on what services the school will be able to provide for your child coping with special needs. Not all schools are the same.
As an advocate for my son, I knew how important it was for me to be there at the IEP Meeting, which includes a slew of other people from his principal to his teachers, workers and other educators geared in working with kids with disabilities.
What I didn’t know was what to expect during the IEP Meeting. I had no idea what I should beforehand to be prepared. How I should conduct myself. My son is the most important thing to me, as is his education. So, of course, I wanted everything to go smoothly.
It’s important to write down your questions and ask the right questions during your IEP Meeting for your child. Here are some questions to get you started.
Question #1. What do I need to do to be prepared for the meeting? A few days before your child’s IEP meeting you need to go over whatever documents you wish to bring to your child’s educators attention. You will attend the meeting in person or by telephone. I highly suggest in person, so you can get a more one on one feel for what is going to happen.
Question #2. What sort of testing has been done on my child’s to gather this assessment? You may or may not receive documents of your child’s assessment testing or IEP test. This test summarizes your child’s strengths and weaknesses, so that educators can develop a plan for your child to help them learn better.
Question #3. Are the goals set out by the educators clear? Make sure at the meeting you fully understand the goals and objectives being put into place by your child’s educators and IEP workers. Clarify and repeat back what you have heard. And if there are any terms you do not understand outlined, ask what they mean. The plan put into place should be clear to everyone present.
Question #4. When will help be given to my child and for how long? Make sure you get start dates as to when exactly help will be given to your child and for how long the help will be given. Is it after school? Is it during lunch-hour? Knowing these things will impact your child and help you prepare them for learning.
Question #5. How will I be updated about my child’s progress? The plan you set into place for your child should include contact information and how you will be updated about your child’s progress in meeting the plan put into place. Will be via email? Will you meet every month or every other month? Will you get progress reports sent home?
Question #6. What is my role as a parent to help assist my child’s educational plan and help my child learn to the best of their ability? It’s important for you to know what the school expects of you as a parent in helping your child with their learning plan. How many hours of homework? Any reading that needs to be done? And if you cannot assist your child, you need to let the school know the reasons why.
You are your child’s advocate. Just because your child has disabilities doesn’t mean they don’t deserve a plan put into place to help them, and it’s your responsibility to make sure IEP understands what your child’s needs are in order for them to learn properly.
It’s your goal as parent to work with IEP and make sure that learning is your child’s top priority. Here’s a few more tips to help you during your meeting. Good luck!
- Bring a paper and pen or notebook to jot down your questions and concerns
- Ask for reports or follow up meetings to be typed out and sent to you via email so you have a record to keep for your child’s further education as they move on in grades.
- If you child’s IEP worker leaves to go to another school, schedule a new meeting with the new IEP worker to introduce yourself and make sure the educational plan stays intact.
- Involve the principal and your child’s teachers in your IEP learning plan as they are the ones who will be pushing forth your child’s learning.
- Keep your temper in check, and be aware it’s their job to educate your child but they have lots of children that are needing help. Your child is not the only one.
- Make sure before the meeting is over all email addresses and phone numbers are given to the school for proper communication.