Every child eligible for special education will have periodic Individualized Education Program meetings. (See my blog, “What in the World is an IEP?”) When it’s time for your child’s IEP meeting, you may have a lot of concerns. What questions should I ask? How will I know if the goals being presented are right for my child? When should I agree, and when should I disagree? As a parent, what role do I play at the meeting? Here are a few tips to help you prepare.
1. Spend some time prior to the meeting thinking about any issues that concern you. Here are some things for you to consider:
- What kind of classroom setting do you think would be best for your son or daughter? A small group of children with similar developmental delays? A class of regular students, where your child is given an assistant? A room somewhat separated from the rest of the school?
- What are the behaviors or delays that trouble you most? What problems need the most urgent attention from teachers and therapists? Is your child’s inability to speak causing tantrums? Is she cruel or defiant with other children? Are his physical limitations the biggest issue?
- At home, what do you find most helps your child calm down? What are his favorite things? What are her talents? What tips could you give to your child’s educators, about ways to motivate him to learn? You know your son or daughter better than anyone else.
2. Write down the issues you’d like to discuss. Otherwise, once the meeting gets going you might forget.
3. Bring a notepad and pen.
4. If possible, bring your child’s other parent along. He or she may think of things that you don’t. And I found that each time I attended alone, my husband grew more and more distant and less knowledgeable about Kyle’s life.
5. Go in with a cooperative attitude. Be positive and upbeat. These are the people who will be spending a lot of time with your child, and having a good relationship is important for your child’s sake.
6. Don’t feel intimidated or railroaded. Ask the members of the group to repeat or explain anything that doesn’t make sense. Let them know if something they are suggesting makes you uncomfortable. If you feel uncertain, ask to take home the IEP for a few days to think about things prior to signing.
Ideally, your child’s Individualized Education Program meeting should be a positive experience, where everyone’s number one priority is to provide your child with the best education possible.