Rock Your Next IEP: Tips for a Successful IEP Meeting
Tips for a Successful IEP Meeting
If you are like me, you begin stressing weeks prior to your IEP meeting! Then the anxiety sets in – where is my child (present levels), she didn’t master her goals, he is not on grade level – and then you are apprehensive and nervous about what the new IEP will look like. You wonder if the child you see at home is the “same” as at school. There are positive steps you can take to make your meeting more successful.
Related: Calm Your Nerves – Know What To Expect At An IEP Meeting
When you receive your meeting notice, you can email a request to receive a copy of the draft IEP 3-5 days prior to the scheduled meeting. Once you receive the draft, you read thru it carefully and highlight your concerns. You will want to use those concerns as a starting point to convert them into questions; you can also create an “agenda” of items you want to discuss. You should also know your child’s strengths & weaknesses and see if they are reflected in the present levels under each domain. (NOTE: make sure the present levels have been updated since the prior IEP; I have seen the same present levels on the draft which means the draft has not been updated!).
You will also want to know your Rights & Responsibilities (found in the Procedural Safeguards) and familiarize yourself with asking for Prior Written Notice/ Notice of Refusal. Bring others to your meeting to support you (friends, advocate) or who have knowledge of your child (private service providers).
Parents should also consider your child attending the IEP meeting, even if only for an introduction to the Team. I usually suggest that you have your child come into the meeting, introduce your child to the Team, and ask your child if they have anything to say to the Team (you would already prep him/her on what he/she wants to tell the Team and they can read what they want to say to the Team). This will be an initial step in learning to self-advocate at the meeting; your child will also see the number of people who are involved in the IEP decisions making process. And, if you practice at home and your child shuts down at the meeting, that is okay too. At least your child sees the Team and has tried to self-advocate! (This is a first step and your child will build his/her confidence up). If your child cannot attend, bring 3-4 family pics to pass around at the table. There are probably attendees who have not seen your child; the pics will also show your child enjoying time with friends & family at home and in the community.
Prior to the meeting, you will want to organize your paperwork and bring only the files you need so you can retrieve a document easily. You will want to bring your “data” — video of your child struggling with homework, the “finished” homework (uncorrected & with illegible printing), or the homework that was attempted and could not be finished by your child. Remember, at home your child is working 1-on-1 with you but has also been in school sitting at a desk for 7-8 hours. Sometimes the homework will be “easier” to do than on other days. The Team needs to hear about your child’s capabilities and/or frustration at home so show them the finished product and what it took for your child and you to accomplish the homework.
At the meeting, you will want to stay calm, speak affirmatively but not forcefully, and actively listen. Ask for a clarification or explanation of what this looks like for my child. Don’t point fingers …. Parents need to be collaborative to understand what the school sees your child is capable of or is struggling with. If it gets too stressful, ask for a break and leave the room for a few minutes. Parents should “Reach for the Moon” and know where they will “settle.” And then you need to give the school time to implement the IEP and to see if it is working for your child (I usually suggest a quarter/9 weeks).
IEP meetings are a bundle of emotions. Come prepared and think success!!!!
Doreen Franklin is a Special Ed Advocate and parent of 2 adopted daughters with diverse special needs. She assists parents with their understanding of legal policy, procedures, rights, & responsibilities under IDEA so parents can learn to collaboratively advocate for their child. She has been an Advocate & Coach since 2005. Doreen is also a private tutor and homeschooled her older daughter.
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- How can parents prepare for an IEP Meeting? (Part 1)
- How to Set Clear Goals and Plan Naturally
- Three Tips for Highlighting and Color-Coding Your Child’s Draft IEP
- Whether it’s Your First IEP or You’re a Pro: 10 things to Cover at the Meeting
- Requests Prior to IEP Meetings: Eval Reports and Draft IEPs
- The Politics of Special Education: The Information You Need Right Now
- Is the IEP Individualized or Cookie-Cutter?
- Rock Your Next IEP: Tips for a Successful IEP Meeting
- Beyond the IEP Team: 6 Tips for Parent Participation at School
- Should My Child Attend the IEP Meeting?
- IEP Meeting Overwhelm? How to Avoid It!
- Calm Your Nerves – Know What To Expect At An IEP Meeting
- The Importance of S.M.A.R.T IEP Goals
- IEP Prep: Using the Mama Bear Strategy
This post originally appeared on our May/June 2019 Magazine