An IEP meeting can be tough on emotions. It is sometimes very difficult to understand every aspect of what is going on in the meeting if you are feeling nervous. It is normal that you feel overwhelmed with the idea of going to an IEP meeting. However, if you keep positive, there are several things you can do to better prepare for and have productive and successful IEP meetings. The more prepared you are, the better you feel. Here are 10 things you can do to better prepare yourself to have a successful IEP meeting:
1. Make a list
Create a general list of questions, concerns and suggestions before the meeting. These meetings tend to be rushed as there are many things to discuss. You have a better chance that your concerns and questions will be answered if you are organized. Share your input about your child in these meetings. List what your child is struggling and needs help with.
2. Bring important documents
If you have a report or progress card in your hand, or you visited a doctor recently, bring these documents to the meeting for the team to have a better idea. You can ask the doctor to write a little summary report that can be shared in the meeting.
3. Do your homework
You have the right to receive a copy of the assessment results and the IEP with the goals to review ahead of time. This way, if you have any questions about what is proposed, you can write them down and present them in the meeting without wasting time.
4. Record the meeting
Take notes in the meeting. You may also record the meeting as long as you notify the team members ahead of time. This way, when you go home and review the meeting, you will have more clear thoughts.
You are a member of the team. Speak up, verbalize your concerns, share your input, ask questions and bring ideas to discuss. You are the advocate for your child and you all are there for a reason.
6. Invite someone to go with you
Ask one of your friends or family members to go with you to the meetings. They will be your second pair of ears in the meeting and take notes so that in case you miss something, they will be your back up. After the meeting, you can discuss the notes and see if you missed or misunderstood anything discussed. Just remember to let the team leader know you are bringing somebody.
7. You don’t have to sign the IEP right away
If you feel like there are still some things left to be discussed, you didn’t have enough time or you are uncomfortable with the IEP plan, you can request a follow-up meeting. You do not have to sign the IEP right away. You can politely state that there are still some issues you would like to address and you would like a follow-up meeting.
8. Take it home with you
According to IDEA, you can ask to take the IEP home for further review before you sign it. Meetings can be overwhelming for some parents. It is normal to feel not ready in the meetings. You can make a final decision after you review the IEP at home.
9. Be open-minded
Remember that you are all there for a common reason. Others in the team that suggests an idea you think is not so great also think that it would be best for the student. Listen to what they are suggesting. If you have a different opinion, ask why do they think this is the best approach. Because you are a team, you should consider all options on the table.
10. Know your rights
You are the advocate, the voice of your child. Know your rights before going into the meeting. IDEA gives all parents the legal right to participate in all of the IEP meetings. You are an equal member of the team. You are the one who knows your child’s tough times and strengths better than anybody else, thus, you are indispensable to these meetings.
- Special Learning: (https://www.special-learning.com/blog/article/21)
- Understanding Special Education: http://www.understandingspecialeducation.com/IEP-tips.html
- Additude Mag: https://www.additudemag.com/12-tips-successful-iep-meeting/