When we got to the IEP team meeting, I was immediately overwhelmed. There were so many people there, and they all seemed to know each other.
We sat down at a table where one of the teachers introduced herself as Mrs. Martinez and asked how she could help our family today.
My wife looked around nervously before finally speaking up. “We don’t really know what to expect from this meeting,” she said quietly.
“I’m sorry?” Mrs. Martinez said kindly, looking back at my wife.” What would your goal be for today’s meeting?”
“Um, well, I guess we want our son to learn enough to pass 5th grade?” my wife replied.
Unfortunately, I’ve seen many parents come to a meeting with goals similar to this. An IEP meeting can be a very intimidating place, and if you don’t know what you’re doing, your child’s needs are easy to get lost in the shuffle.
To help alleviate some of that stress for you, here are tips to help make your next IEP team meeting a success.
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How to Have a Successful IEP Team Meeting
I’ve been on both sides of an IEP team meeting. I am a parent of a child with an IEP and a special educator and case manager for the last ten years. These meetings can be nerve-wracking both as a teacher and a parent.
Partnering with your child’s school team and involving your home team is the best to approach meetings. Most school teams want to ensure they provide your child with the best educational environment to progress. But there can be differing opinions between school and home teams.
Planning for your child’s IEP meeting is essential. Here is an IEP checklist presented by Sarah Dooley in preparation for IEP meetings, whether it is your initial one or updating a plan.
Why is Preparing Important?
Preparing for your child’s IEP team meeting is extremely important. You are the home expert on your child. Without you, the school team may not have all the information they need.
You will bring your child’s skills and interests to the meeting that can be ever so helpful for them to understand your child better and how to help him.
Know Your Child’s Disability
Once your child has a disability, you should educate yourself! Learning about your child’s disability will help you be an active participant in your child’s services and goals for your child’s IEP.
In addition, connect with other parents who have children with the same disability. You can learn a lot about what to do (and what not to do) to help your child succeed in their learning and educational progress.
What to Bring With You to the IEP Team Meeting
- Previous IEP – to help with talking points for changes, and reference goals and services, etc.
- Documentation of new or updated medical diagnoses or evaluations
- Another person – someone you trust to listen to the meeting and give you sound advice, such as an advocate. Also, this person can help take notes because often, meetings can have you, as the parent, feeling emotional.
- Notepad and Pencil – to take notes during the meeting and write down anything important that the team may discuss or decide.
Talk to Your Child’s Case Manager
Talk to your child’s case manager before you meet with the IEP team. Everyone understands that meetings can be overwhelming and confusing and would be happy to help you prepare.
It is also important to understand the case manager’s role so you know who to go to answer additional questions or need more information. So here are some things to discuss with your case manager.
Talk to Your Case Manager Before the Meeting
- Do they plan to make any changes to your child’s IEP?
- What is the data on student goals?
- Can they provide you with a draft IEP?
Unfortunately, they aren’t required to provide it. However, if they cannot offer it, you should ask what changes they might be proposing at the IEP meeting. You can compare a draft IEP to your child’s previous IEP to see what changes the team is suggesting to make.
Once you identify these, you can brainstorm your responses and ask other trusted individuals their thoughts on those changes.
Questions to Ask During the IEP Meeting
Ask to see the data collected on your child’s goal areas. For example, make sure that this data is not just anecdotal information. You want the hard facts on your child’s progress.
Did your child meet their annual goal(s)? If not, why did they not meet their goal? This will help you lead the conversation to question several more items.
- Were the services appropriate to meet the goal?
- Does your child need different accommodations?
- How can we make him more successful?
Additional Resources for IEP Meetings
The IEP meeting is a crucial step in the educational process for your child. It’s an opportunity to make changes, learn about their progress, and create future goals with your child’s team to best help them succeed.
By following these suggestions, you’ll be better prepared when it comes time to go into the meeting room. Your children deserve nothing less than success – let’s do everything we can as parents and professionals to give it all our efforts!
What have you found helpful before going to an IEP team meeting? Share in the comments below.
We also have an IEP Youtube Playlist you may want to check out.
You May Find These Articles Helpful Too
- 7 Steps Of The IEP Process
- Present Level of Performance The Most Important Part of an IEP Explained
- 6 Benefits Of A Child Advocate In An IEP Meeting
- What to Do if Your Child is Not Making Academic Progress?
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