Notes on Parenting

Insights for parenting babies, toddlers, teens, and young adults.

Friday, January 28, 2011

How to prepare for an Individualized Education Plan (IEP)

Many parents find themselves being asked to attend an IEP meeting about their child and having no idea what to expect. First of all, what is an IEP meeting? IEP stands for Individualized Education Plan. The purpose of an IEP meeting is for the parents and the school to collectively come up with appropriate goals for the child to complete within the next year. The idea behind these goals is to help foster the best learning possible... for a child that may need extra help (for example, a child who has a learning disability would have an IEP meeting to set appropriate goals to give the child the best environment to succeed). While IEP meetings are designed to be useful and beneficial for all involved, it usually leaves parents very confused and full of questions. Most of the time, as a parent we don't know what to expect going into an IEP meeting. Here are some suggestions to help prepare to attend your child's IEP meeting.

  • Know who will be in attendance: It helps to know who all is going to be at the meeting. Will your child's teacher be there, will the school psychologist be there, how about the resource teacher?
  • Know what your child's report card looks like: Knowing the types of grades your child has will help you get a better idea of where your child is struggling academically.
  • Make goals for your child: The school will come into the meeting with a list of projected goals for the child so it is important as a parent that you know what progress you want to see in your child to ensure that the school's goals align with your goals.
  • Make sure your input is included: IEP meeting tend to be very intimidating for a parent because you are in a room with the professionals who tell you what they suggest based off the data. The purpose of these meetings is certainly not to scare the parent or bully the parent in anyway unfortunately, sometimes parents feel that they are not able to give their input because they aren't one of the professionals. The truth is, as a parent you are the professional on your child. The school does not know a child as well as the parents do. Therefore, as a parent don't be afraid to provide your input and make sure the school understands how you feel.
Bullet points come from course work in School Psychology at Utah State University as well as the following website:

Doing these things can help you go into an IEP with more confidence and a better understanding of what to expect. There are plenty of other things that can be done to prepare, these are just a few suggestions. Does anybody else have any other suggestions or input? What kinds of experiences have you had with IEP meetings?

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