5 Easy and Effective Ways YOU Can Make IEP Meetings Successful
By: TLC Education Success Experts
Individual Education Plan (IEP) meetings do make a difference for our children’s success in school. Here are powerful ways you can significantly strengthen their impact.
If you don’t get everything you want (and meetings are often about compromise), remember you will know the people involved for potentially many YEARS that your child is in school. The stronger the relationships (whether we like them or not) the better the meetings will go for all of us and even more importantly, for your child. Rome was not built in a day – you can always call another meeting if you would like.
Keep the Focus on Your Child
Continually remember, and if necessary, remind everybody else, why the meeting is taking place. It is to meet your child’s educational needs. Consider bringing a picture of your child and actually setting it up on the table to help everyone remember why we all are doing this.
Collect Data and Evaluation
A great IEP starts with a great evaluation. The evaluation determines what our goals will be and how the IEP will be written. If you don’t agree with the school’s evaluation, ask for an independent evaluation before even starting to write an IEP. Strengths and needs should be clearly articulated in the evaluation. Make sure you agree with them. Generally, every need should be supported in the IEP.
Before going to the meeting, review and remind yourself the skills of good listening. Use active listening techniques. Practice saying what you think you heard to make sure that everyone at the meeting is on the same page. And, do take notes. Often it is hard to be fully present listening while you are taking notes. Bring someone with you (a friend, neighbor, relative) whose main job is to be the note-taker. Listen with an open mind. We have a team because we each see the child through our different lenses; often, the student you see at home is different than the student seen in math class. Work together to get an accurate picture of how your child looks right now in the learning environment.
If you don’t understand something – acronyms, time frames, anything – ask!
Practice what you preach: Remember to say please and thank you. Be kind to yourself and everyone at the meeting. Though it can be a tough process for everyone, the energy you bring to the conversation – kind and compassionate – while reminding them of their purpose based on an accurate evaluation, will have a powerful positive effect for your child.