Preparing to attend an IEP meeting? Here are 5 Items Every Parent Should Bring To An IEP Meeting…….
In July, I nervously hit publish on a post that had sat in my draft area for months. I shared a list of questions that every parent should ask at an IEP meeting. I have to admit, the post made me a little uncomfortable. A lot of families are (understandably) sensitive about IEP meetings and the needs of their children. But, as a teacher…..I felt I needed to share my experiences. In my career as an elementary school teacher and intervention coordinator, I’ve sat in hundreds of IEP meetings. They’re a regular part of my weekly schedule.
So what happened after I hit publish? The emails poured in. Parents sharing their own IEP experiences, the good and the bad. My post was picked up by The Mighty. It's now being used in educational materials for a number of foundations that work with children who have special needs. Of all the posts I've written, it makes me feel the most proud.
Now that I'm back at school for the year, and sitting in MORE IEP meetings……I have more to say. In addition to asking questions during an IEP meeting, it is important that every member of the IEP team bring artifacts. As an intervention teacher, I bring student work samples and test scores. Today I'm sharing five things YOU should bring as a parent. These artifacts and observations will help the team discuss options and formulate the BEST plan for your child.
5 Things EVERY Parent Should Bring to an IEP Meeting:
- A Running Record: What is that? A fancy way of describing a daily log. Bring a notebook with you on a regular day with your child. Write down EVERYTHING. What time they wake up, when they eat, how they behave. Ideally? You have a week's worth of notes. Why? Because we can start to see patterns that way. We can combine notes from school days and home days. We can see if your child struggles at the same TIME each day. We can see if specific environments are more challenging. We can see if they struggle an hour before lunch. Those puzzle pieces together? Show us WAY more of the picture.
- A List of High Interest Activities: What does your child LIKE to do? What do they enjoy outside of school? Those are motivators, and will help the team brainstorms activities to support your child academically and emotionally.
- A List of Your Concerns: Trust me, IEP meetings are stressful. They often move quickly. There are a lot of experts, sharing a lot of jargon. As a parent, you want to be sure you are able express your concerns clearly. The worst feeling in the world is remembering something important AFTER the fact. Bring a written list of 3-4 concerns you would like addressed by the team. Check them off as they are addressed.
- Contact Log: If you have kept a record (if you haven't, start now) of contact with your child's support providers….bring it. This will help you remember conversations from earlier in the year, and how responsive the team member was.
- A Printed List of Questions to Ask: My list of ten questions every parent should ask at an IEP meeting is a great place to start (and bonus, I just added a printable to it…..so you can print and bring it along!)
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Have you been in an IEP meeting? As a parent? A teacher? A member of the support team? What do YOU think is important for a parent to bring along? Leave your thoughts in the comments!