The Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is required for every public school offering special education and other related services. An IEP is a combined effort between you as a parent, the teachers, school administrators, and providers of specialized services. How you help craft and update your child’s IEP can do wonders in accelerating their learning progress.
The following are simple strategies that you can do to help update an IEP for your child to ensure all learning resources are maximized:
1. Gather Information Prior to the IEP Meeting
Establish a baseline by gathering sufficient information on your child’s current learning needs. Some of the best resources are found in school records and observation outside the classroom.
If this is your first ever IEP meeting, gather information pertaining to the reason your child is entering special education. Most of the reasons and needs will have already been documented, but be sure and provide any additional information and examples from outside of the classroom.
If you’ve had IEP meetings in the past, a good place to start is with your child’s prior IEP’s. Pay close attention to which goals have been mastered and which ones have not. Be sure to come prepared with specific questions for your child’s teacher and other professionals present at the meeting regarding these particular goals and lack of progress.
2. Articulate Your Child’s Strengths and Needs
The Individualized Education Plan will be the cornerstone of your child with special needs education and a large factor in their path to excellence. Make sure that when you’re participating in the updating of their IEP, you have articulated your child’s strengths and needs. In this case, pay close attention to your child’s strengths. In most cases being the best in the world in one particular skill can be more advantageous in life than being average in everything. Too often people only focus on the current challenges of children with special needs instead of continuing to build on their strengths. This will help other members of the team to come up with a detailed plan that will be appropriate for your child’s special needs and help guide them effectively.
3. Provide Ideas for IEP Goals
Provide other members of the team with ideas for IEP goals. If this is your child’s first IEP, focus on homework progress along with how proficient they are at self-skills. If your child with special needs has had IEP’s created in the past, compare previous goals with accomplishments and brainstorm ideas that can help improve those areas. Also, as previously mentioned focus on your child’s strengths. Write down observations you’ve made that showcase what skill or behavior your child with special needs excels in. Most importantly, make sure that you’re focused on goals that suit your child’s current needs and builds on their future success.
4. Ask For a Rough Draft Of the IEP
Once rough draft of the Individualized Education Plan is created, request a copy for review. Compare it with your child’s IEP from the previous year if available and make the necessary changes. Never be afraid to be a strong voice and advocate for your child. Other members of the team may try and overpower your decisions and ideas… do NOT let that happen. Most people involved in this process should be highly trained, however the ultimate goal is the success of your child. No one cares about your child’s success as much as you.
5. Be An Ongoing Advocate
Your role as a parent in creating an IEP doesn’t end once you’ve returned the revised draft. As an advocate of your child, you are encouraged to follow up with their teachers and the school administration to make sure that the plan is followed.
Crafting an effective IEP requires more than just coming up with a well-written learning plan. It calls for constant communication with the IEP team along with your support and assistance for your child with special needs. Too often, people are passive aggressive in situations that make them feel uncomfortable, not wanting to make a scene they often keep their true feelings to themselves. If at anytime you feel your child’s teacher isn’t fulfilling their needs , SPEAK YOUR MIND. This is not a time to hold back, in this case it’s your child’s future at stake.
Be Aware Of Alternative Assistance
We have come a long way since the beginning of special education in the United States. Today, there are a variety of options, resources and assistance available to ensure children with special needs reach their excellence. Options such as inclusion classrooms, self-contained classrooms, private and charter schools along with supplemental learning through special education tutoring.
As a parent, you want the best for your child in all facets of life. The world of special education can be confusing and often filled with red tape. Special Education Resource was created to help guide you through the struggle and frustration of finding what’s best for your child with special needs. One of the fastest ways to receive much sought after answers is by taking advantage of a free consultation with a special education tutor. These experts will be able to answer some of the toughest questions and point you in a direction that will help your child with special needs reach the success they’re after.