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Does your child have an IEP or 504 plan? These are 8 simple questions to ask your IEP team that will help support a transition to at home learning.
I woke up in the middle of the night last night, thinking about this blog post. One of the questions I'm seeing the most in Facebook groups and in messages? How to support children with an IEP or 504 during this time. This is a little odd, but I loved being a part of the IEP team when I was teaching. In fact, I was a part of over 1,000 IEP meetings in my career and felt they were an important opportunity to bridge communication between all supports (you can see the post I wrote about regular IEP meetings here).
The goal of an IEP meeting is to put supports in place within the classroom and learning environment, and I'm willing to bet……any IEP or 504 didn't account for at home learning as it looks NOW. So here we are. Scrambling to figure out how to support our kids. Teachers and parents alike. Support providers too.
Now that we know we'll be HERE for awhile, I want to encourage you to communicate with your child's support team. You have a right to ask as many questions as you'd like and to get as much information as possible.
A few things to do immediately:
-reread your child's IEP document (if you don't have a copy you can request an electronic version be emailed to you again)
-make some notes on what you are seeing at home: behavior spikes? frustration with school work? what is your child SAYING about at home learning? If they're not saying much….ASK THEM. How do they feel? What is easy? What feels hard?
Now, let's ask the IEP team some questions.
8 Questions to Ask Your IEP Team About At Home Learning
What do these academic goals ACTUALLY look like? Look guys, these goals were written BEFORE all this. And they were written for teachers to implement. Not parents. Chances are, they're very broad and you don't know what they actually look like in you know….normal people terms. Ask questions. Get clarification. It's ok to say, I don't get what that MEANS. And ask if adjustments need to be made. IEP teams are currently scrambling and figuring out how to support their kids virtually, but the truth is…..this is different. You're going to be more hands on than you have been. And it's ok to need a LOT of clarification.
Can You Tell Me What Should be My Priority? We're not going to get to everything. This is different than an in school schedule. What should be a priority? Academically and behavior-wise. Pick two or three things maximum.
What Supports Were Working at School Academically? Did it help to have text read aloud? Was your child given extra time? There are normally A LOT of supports written into an IEP document. Which ones were the most effective? Can you replicate them at home? HOW? What does that look like? It's ok to ask for demos and examples.
What Supports Were Working at School Behaviorally? Did your child have a written schedule? A task list? A token system? An if then chart? A feelings journal? What helped? Because ideally, you'd want to do the same things at home.
What Do You Think Our Day Should Look Like At Home? Ask the experts. This team is here to help you. They can weigh in on what type of schedule or routine they think will be best for your child.
Should We Use a Reward System? What Do You Suggest? Some children do REALLY well when they are earning a reward (either an object or activity) and for some that can be a source of frustration. ASK what the team has seen at school. Does something like this help? Or not help? Is it worth a shot at home?
Are There Tools or Programs You Were Using At School That We Should Use At Home? From online programs to things like reading film or exercise bands on a chair for kicking what tools were working for your child at school? Can you order those same items? Would it help? It's amazing how these simple tools can make a difference sometimes.
When Is The Best Time To Communicate with You? What Method is Best? Can My Child Communicate with You Directly? You're going to have questions. A lot of them. And more will come. It is OK to lean on your IEP team. That's their JOB. Ask for the best ways and times to communicate. Is it text? Email? Phone calls? And can your child speak to the team directly (depending on age). I'm going to suggest having your child be as involved as possible in these plans and this process. THEY know what works for them. They know what doesn't. Let them express that.