How to Make the Most of Your IEP meeting
Know your child’s—and your district’s—strengths and weaknesses
If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP), at least once a year you will be scheduled to meet with some representatives from your local school district. The purpose of this meeting is to determine your child’s program for the next year. During the meeting, you will discuss the specific program or class your child should join, any goals you might have (including academic, social, cognitive, and linguistic goals), services your child requires, recommended teaching methods, and more. As a parent, you are in a unique position to provide guidance on the terms and goals of the program.
Here are some tips to help you make the most of your IEP meeting:
- Know Your Resources. Research any special programs that might benefit your child. If your district doesn’t have an appropriate program in place, a nearby district might. Whenever possible, visit programs to help determine the best fit for your child. Also consider the district’s strengths and weaknesses. If your district has a shortage of teachers or funds, it’s a good idea to know beforehand and plan accordingly.
- Ask For Advice. Your child’s previous teacher might be able to recommend special programs and teaching methods that your child could benefit from. The school assessor, district special education administrator, and even other parents could also be good sources for practical advice tailored to your child.
- Arrive Prepared. You should already know what education programs and services you want to request before you attend the meeting. Try to obtain a copy of your school district’s IEP form and fill it out in advance. While the form will ultimately be written in collaboration with the district representatives, planning beforehand will help you be more organized and focused.
- Find Backup. Gather outside support that validates your requests for special services. Try to obtain a copy of your child’s school file for any testing data or teachers’ comments that might substantiate your requests. Consider having an independent assessment of your child performed by a professional outside of the school district. You can invite doctors, assessors, and specialists to attend the IEP meeting with you. Written statements are also helpful.