As parents head into the new school year, they should be sure to have a fresh IEP in hand if they have a special needs child. These Individualized Educational Plans are more than just a bunch of lofty goals for the school year. Rather they are legally binding documents in which the school promises certain services, and parents and teachers together set meaningful goals for their children. Parents who have not yet completed the IEP meeting should get this accomplished as soon as possible and should follow these tips for writing a fabulous IEP that will result in a successful school year.
Remember That Parents Are Experts
Parents often go into these meetings feeling as if they must prove themselves to the committee. While special education teachers do have plenty of experience in working with these children, parents are the real experts on their own children. They know how their children think, what motivates them and what their struggles are. Parents should not be afraid to speak up in IEP meetings.
The IEP should be written specifically rather than vaguely. There should be annual goals as well as short-term goals. An example of a good goal would be that the student would learn to read short-vowel words with complete accuracy. A poor, vague goal would be that the student would learn to read more words this year.
Parents may feel as if they are under fire during the meeting, or they may feel that the school is not doing enough to help their children. Despite this, they should find ways to communicate their concerns positively, staying away from condemning statements. By keeping the focus on how they can work with the school for the betterment of the child, much can be accomplished.
Keep a Record
Parents should make a list of questions or concerns that they want to bring up at the IEP meeting. Following the meeting, they should carefully file the IEP as well as pertinent information about the meeting. This could come in useful should there be any future disputes.