Ok ladies, it’s time to take off your Mom Jeans and be the Mom Boss that I know you are! The IEP Meeting can be intimidating and scary, but I’ve found a few tips to help you prepare like a boss to get the best results for your child!
HOW TO PREPARE FOR AN IEP LIKE A BOSS:
Start early & organize.
If you already have your IEP Binders sorted then you can skip this step. If not, buy two or three 3-ring binders and start sorting through that stack in the back of your closet or dresser drawer.
We are starting simple.
One pile for medical and one pile for school.
Put the newest IEP in the front of the notebook.
*If you don’t have it/can’t find it, call the school and request one before the meeting. Do not allow shame or fear to cause you to hesitate and not make that call. I have spoken to moms who didn’t know they could request another copy of their child’s IEP! It’s not a big deal; happens all of the time. Get another copy & move on.
If you do not feel prepared-
You can do that too!
Quick Tip: If you plan to record the meeting you must give the school a 24-hour notice by law. Recording the session may sound harsh, but really it’s not. This is a fabulous way to document the conference because it is so difficult to recall what was said!
Quick Tip: Print out any emails or correspondence you may need to use as reminders (or proof) for the meeting.
Ok, now you’ve got his newest IEP in your super organized notebook.
Take time to read your child’s last IEP!
Review those goals.
How is he doing?
Has he met the goals that were set for him?
Were the goals realistic?
Do you understand the goals?
Are they measurable goals or do they seem vague?
Many parents get confused by IEP Goals.
I know I sure did.
Here’s a way to help.
IEP Goals should be S.M.A.R.T.
Use Action Words
For more information visit Wright’s Law.
Look at your child’s IEP again.
Are the goals SMART?
What are the goals you have in mind for him?
Remember this is your child.
You are a VIP member of the IEP Team.
Do not rely on the school alone.
They are doing hundreds of IEP’s.
You are doing one.
You’re the parent-you have the final say.
What about behavior?
Have you found anything, in particular, to be helpful?
Jot down some notes to discuss at the meeting!
You need to have a section in your binder/notebook for Progress Reports & Report Cards.
Look at your child’s report cards. (I make copies of Nathan’s or I take a picture with my phone & email it to myself to print later.)
Re-read any progress reports.
Now, compare those to his IEP Goals.
Do they make sense?
If you have any questions, write them down so you can address these at the meeting. Do not ever worry about looking dumb or asking a stupid question. There is no such thing!
Let me tell you something-I consider myself to be somewhat intelligent…I graduated from college with honors & I’ve traveled the world.
I am often TOTALLY CONFUSED by the way these reports and goals are written. I am never ashamed to admit when I don’t understand something.
I just ask them to explain it to me like I’m four years old. That usually does the trick.
Ok. Now take a look at the academic standards for your kid’s grade level.
You can search by state right here.
Now take another look at the IEP Goals.
You may want to tweak them a bit now.
INVITE YOUR TEAM TO THE MEETING
Do not; I repeat- Do NOT go alone!
There will be several representatives from the school in attendance and this will be intimidating. The Terminator would be intimided by some of these line ups- Please, just take my advice here!
Take your spouse plus somebody with you! Invite therapists or other support givers. Maybe another family member that can provide helpful insight or even a regular babysitter.
You need a team.
And a plan. You’ll need to talk with your team before the IEP Meeting to discuss your child’s goals and the game plan.
Don’t forget to TELL THE SCHOOL IN ADVANCE of who you’re inviting. You must do this-by law.
Find out who will be on the other side of the table for the school. You need to be prepared.
Do not get caught off guard!
You must be familiar with the laws related to Special Education.
You are your child’s best advocate.
It is part of your job as a Special Needs Parent to know these laws and how they apply to you and your child.
I know you’re busy-I understand you’ve got your hands full, but this step is too important to skip!
Start with IDEA: Individuals with Disabilities Education Act. Here’s a great article that explains the law in a way that’s easy to understand.
Wright’s Law is another reliable source.
Not every teacher and principal understands these rules and unfortunately not all SPED directors are forthcoming.
Sometimes it is best to bring an advocate or an attorney.
You can find one here.
You’re going to need a separate binder for doctors visits and prescription medicines and supplements.
Has your child seen a specialist since the last IEP Meeting?
Gotten another diagnosis?
This is the time to relay that information to the school.
They will need copies to put in his file so bring them all to the meeting.
Be organized. If you are flailing about trying to locate a note or Rx in your purse, you are taking valuable time away from the meeting.
I’ve been there. I have thrown myself into a complete panic over locating a physician’s letter that was lost in the dark abyss that is my handbag. I wasted a lot of time and threw off my game completely.
AT THE MEETING
Do not sashay into the boardroom in your regular Mom Jeans and T-shirt with the juice stain on the front. You need to look and feel professional & confident. Dress up. Wear makeup. Wear the shoes that make your back hurt.
FLIP THE SCRIPT
The IEP Meeting does not have to be all about your child’s weaknesses.
This is so important!
My son’s first IEP was a complete disaster because I didn’t know what to expect and all we did was discuss what he could not do. Talking about his lack of eye contact resulted in me crying for about two hours straight. I do not want this to happen to you. Ask about your child’s strengths. His teacher wants to tell you! Find out what he is passionate about in the classroom and how you can foster that passion into something more at home.
You’re going to be hit with a ton of information. As in, your head will be spinning, and you will forget what your name is. Do your best to focus on a few-ideally one- primary goal for the IEP.
Is it behavioral?
Ask what you can do at home to assist your child in achieving this goal.
Ask who will be working with your child to provide supports to meet his goals? There are several ways this can be done, so it is imperative that you get down to the nuts and bolts of it while you are in the meeting. These specific supports need to be documented in the IEP.
As in, they need to write them down!
Ask them if your child will be pulled out of the classroom to work with a provider one one one or in a group?
You want to know what your child’s day at school is going to look like.
When does he eat lunch?
Does he eat lunch with general education kids or just special needs kids? You need to know this!
Try to build a relationship with your child’s teachers and the Special Education Administrators.
It’s easy to see them as the enemy at first because they have something you want and they may seem resistant to give it to you. Remember they are just doing their job and you are doing yours.
I know it’s hard to put your emotions aside, trust me, I know, I’m a disaster before an IEP Meeting-no matter how much I’ve prepared, but I know that I have to be level-headed.
I have to think things through and factor in every circumstance and possibility before I present my case.
You must not forget that unless you move these folks will be your liaison to the school. The old saying you get more flies with honey comes to mind.
In other words, check yourself before you wreck yourself.
Be calm, cool, and collected.
You can scream and cry when you get in the car if you need to. But I hope you don’t need to.
I hope this has helped you prepare for your child’s IEP. The more prepared you are the more confident you will be.
If you enjoyed reading, you might want to consider joining The Mom Squad to get more tips and inside information for Special Needs Moms!
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YOU CAN DO IT!