Being a part of your child’s Individual Education Program (IEP) team is a right, but also a responsibility. It is important that parents provide their valuable input. After all, you are the one that knows your child best!
Identify areas of impediment
One of the first steps in preparing for your child’s IEP is to review your child’s development with a practical eye. You want to look closely at all areas of possible concern. A great tool for a parent to use in identifying areas of impediment is a developmental inventory. These scales describe the maturation of skills as an individual develops, assigning standardized ages at which most children obtain a particular skill. While some children splinter, excelling in one area while trailing in another, most students develop in a very systemic way.
A note of caution – do not get hung up on the age assigned to the development of a particular skill. Instead, look for areas where your child has plateau and use this as a guide for suggesting goal areas to your team.
Don’t forget – you can also share goals that you plan to work on at home even if they do not translate to the educational setting. Sharing these goals will help build a picture of the whole child.
Share the good things
One of the best ways to set a positive tone with your child’s team, and to provide a means for sharing your valuable information is to submit a brag sheet. A brag sheet full of great pictures of your child and details on what makes him/her tick offers the team an inside look at not only the student, but the son, the brother, the cousin, the friend.
It is important to share the wonderful things your child does at home and in his/her community. Describe to the team what your child enjoys, what their strengths are. Frame your discussion by sharing what your vision is for your child. Provide a picture of your child’s future, and how you see the coming year being a part of the journey to get there.
Describe to the team what you see as your child’s strengths and challenges. A team can develop important strategies that will help your child be successful in the classroom when they know what makes them tick. Knowing what concerns you have will help members of your child’s team identify areas that may require goals for the coming year. Make sure you distribute your child’s brag sheet to all members of their educational team during the assessment and goal writing process.
Last but not least, be sure to ask that your team provide you with copies of all documents including but not limited to assessments, reports, progress toward goals and drafted goals and objectives prior to the meeting. Having the opportunity to review these important documents ahead of time allows you to move through any emotional reaction you may have to what is included, as well as to familiarize yourself with other team members’ observations and perspectives.
When you need the help of professionals, Pacific Coast Advocates are here!
Pacific Coast Advocates can help you navigate the education process for your child, including Individual Education Programs and 504 meetings. We have a child-centered, collaborative approach and will work to empower you as a parent to secure the best possible education for your child with special needs.