Making the most of your child’s IEP meeting

The key to being a successful, confident advocate in your child's IEP sessions is preparation. Here are five things you should do before an IEP meeting.

1. Gather and examine your records.

Take out any official documents you have copies of, such as your child's current IEP, recent progress reports, and report cards. Collect samples of your child's homework, tests, and teacher notes. Make your own notes and observations as well. (An IEP binder is a handy method to collect all this information in one spot.)

When you've gathered everything, search for areas that want attention. Where is your child progressing or struggling? What resources and services are (or are not) beneficial? Is there anything fresh to report?

2. Invite visitors and supporters.

If you believe you will require assistance at the meeting, request someone to accompany you. This might be a family member or friend, a professional who works with your child, or an advocate. Explain how you believe they can assist you.

You may wish to meet with them before to the meeting to discuss your issues, obtain their perspective, and prepare your approach. If your child is attending an IEP meeting, be sure to prepare them as well.

3. Plan your questions and suggestions.

You may have a lot on your mind after reading your records and speaking with your child, family, or invited guests. Making a short list of the points you wish to make during the meeting might be beneficial. Consider the fundamentals: your worries, questions, and ideas. During the meeting, you might refer to this list.

4. Inform the school about your visitors and requests.

Inform the IEP team leader of any visitors you want to bring to the meeting. Give their names and explain how they are related to you and your kid. If you or any of your visitors require special accommodations, such as videoconferencing or a translator, please notify the team leader in advance.

5. Unwind and think about your child.

Once you've prepared everything for the meeting, try to unwind and concentrate on your child's skills, interests, and problems. Pay attention to what your youngster has to say about school and learning. Remember that you are the only one on the IEP team who knows and understands your child. That frame of mind will allow you to approach the IEP meeting with power and confidence.