How can parents prepare for an IEP meeting?
Tips For Parents
By Anna Stewart
- Never go alone. Always bring someone with you. Ask a friend who knows you and your child. Their role is to take notes during the meeting and to debrief with you afterwards. They are not expected to add to the conversation but could.
- Write a 'parent report'. All the other professionals will write a report. Your voice should be included in your child's file. In one page, open with an overall picture of your child, write a bulleted list of their strengths, their interests, and what you think are their needs.
- Choose three . Parents should decide what they think are the three most important goals, skills, or strategies to implement or work toward for the child in the coming year. While we want much more for our children, by narrowing the focus, it helps all the team members stay on target.
- Prepare a vision statement. As a family, write a vision of how you see your child in the future. If your child is young, do one for the next three years. As they get older and your vision gets longer, continue to adjust it. All decisions about placement, etc, should reflect this vision.
- Request all reports be given to you a minimum of 24 hours in advance. If they do not provide them prior to the meeting and you do not feel ready to comment or create goals, ask for an additional meeting to do goals.
- Bring a recent photo of your child and display it where everyone can see. We don't ever want to forget that the discussion is about an individual.
- Collect private reports. If you use any private services (OT, psychologist, etc.) ask them to write a yearly report to include in your child's files.
- Tape record meetings. You need to tell the team in advance so they can also record it. This is especially important for meetings that may be difficult.
- Additional assessments. Ask before the meeting what other assessments the school district offers and then ask for the paperwork to be filled out at the meeting. Additional assessments may include augmentative communication systems, other technology such as using an AlphaSmart, bringing in disability specialists, or doing a functional behavior assessment.
- Set up a communication system. Every year, discuss the best way for the teachers and parents to communicate. Could use written daily logs, weekly emails or bi-weekly phone calls.
For a useful tool on IEPs developed for parents, visit the Pop-up IEP on the Hands & Voices website.