As an advocate, I have participated in several IEPs, as a parent, I have learned to be prepared to work with the team to get the best educational program for my girls.
If it is the first time you attend an IEP you will probably be overwhelmed by all that will happen and all the people that will be at the meeting.
According to IDEA the people who need to be at the IEP are:
This may sound silly, but have your ever asked your kid what they want to learn in school? What they want to be when they grow up? If there was something special they wanted to do? The reason this is important is because we want to make sure we can use their goals and dreams with the educational program and make sure they can accomplish these goals and dreams. Not only that but when our kids see us advocating for them, they will have a buy- in in the program we are working on designing for them. It is after all, their individualized education program!
Sounds like an “of course” but how many times have we actually talked with each one of our kids teachers and therapists and asked what is it that they need to learn by the end of the school year? General education teachers have a curriculum to teach based on the state standards. The Special Education teacher is there to help modify the curriculum to make it accessible to the student, to help identify what accommodations and supports and services can be utilized to ensure the student can access the curriculum.
Ask each professional what is a good time to meet. Ask them for the goals they have for your kid, what they need to accomplish and how they intend to do it and how you can help.
You now have all the information from all the professionals that are working with your kid. I have heard parents say that they hate going to IEP meetings, to me it is when I get to see how we are going to educate this kid that has some special needs and how are we going to work together to ensure we educate him or her.
There are some specific things that will happen during the meeting
The teacher may be able to put together a draft of what you discussed plus the information gathered from the different members of the team and send it to you before the meeting so you can see what the plan is for your student.
Once everyone has submitted their part at the meeting it will be written up in a document and that will be the guide for the upcoming educational year.
There are several points that we need to look at when implementing the IEP. According to the IDEA:
The school has the responsibility to implement the IEP as soon as possible. Some services might take a while to put together, but the responsibility of implementing the IEP is left up to the school. This does not mean that you as a parent can’t be checking and ensuring that the services are being delivered according to the IEP. You are a part of the IEP team, so feel free to communicate to the rest of the team and see how progress is going.