A child’s individualized education plan (IEP) centers around a meeting in which a parent meets with several other people (the child’s general teacher, special education teacher, school representative, school psychologist, and possibly others) to discuss plans to help the child for the coming year.
This should be a positive interaction, but IEP meetings can often feel intimidating and overwhelming.
This is the imperfect educational system: the team of people cannot love and nurture every child the way a parent does. They don’t have the experiences parents do, and they have a tough job with limited resources, funding, and time.
Their job is to administer sparse resources as best as they can to facilitate each child’s IEP.
It’s the parents’ jobs to love their kids and look out for them. This is your chance.
Annual IEP meetings are a part of the process, but here are some steps to make the process easier for parents:
1. Bring someone to the meeting. Having moral support and an extra ear can help sooth your anxiety and give you reinforcement.
2. Wait to sign the agreement. This is for your child. You do not have to sign it until you are satisfied it is exactly what your child needs in her IEP.
3. This is a plan, not a punishment. Remaining positive will help ensure your child is well-equipped to succeed and reach this year’s goals.
4. Consider changes or needs the child has. What has changed from last year? Has she surpassed previous goals? Are there any new struggles? Be as detailed as possible so that the IEP is as effective as possible.
5. As difficult as IEP meetings are, another IEP meeting can happen. If you find your child struggling after the first quarter or so, maybe it is time to schedule a follow up IEP meeting to re-tailor the plan. Nothing is set in stone.
IEP meetings can be difficult and intimidating, but the team is there to do a job. The parents need to do their job, too–to be strong, look out for their child, and make sure the IEP is customized to their child’s needs.