With IEP Annual Review season in full swing, DifferentDream.com guest bloggers are willing and ready to share the benefits of their experience with you. Yesterday, Ellen Stumbo shared 2 things parents can do to prepare for IEP meetings. Today she’s back with 3 more tips you can put into immediate use.
Simple Tips Parents Can Use to Prepare for IEP Annual Review Meetings
Tip #3: Bring Food
Yes, I did just say to bring food. Why? Because food breaks an unspoken barrier. It says, “I want to be friendly, I don’t want to fight and I am thankful you are here.” Bring paper plates or napkins too.
The last few weeks I have seen one of the special education teachers stay for IEP meetings after school almost every day. She has kids at home, and it means she is not making it back to her family until late. Yes, it is part of her job, but she is also a wife and a mom. Bringing some brownies, donuts, cheese and crackers, or other snacks says, “I appreciate the time you have taken to be here for my child.” It speaks volumes when you do something to show appreciation for someone’s time.
Gifts is one of my love languages. If I could fit it in my budget, I would have taken orders from all of them to Starbucks, no kidding! Instead, I brought granola bars and cheese and crackers. Granola bars had chocolate chips in them, we were mostly women, chocolate is known to sometimes brighten a woman’s day. Enough said.
Tip #4: Know the Law
You want to be friendly, but you are your child’s advocate.
Speak up for those who cannot speak for themselves,
for the rights of all who are destitute.
Speak up and judge fairly;
defend the rights of the poor and needy.
A woman I trust and admire gave me this verse as I asked her questions about the IEP process. She is the mother of an adult child now, and was reminding me that yes, you want to be nice, but you also have a responsibility to be an advocate for your child!
Bring food, be friendly, but when it is time to speak up, you speak up. In order to do that, it is important that you are familiar with the special education laws! Here are some great resources for you:
- Wright’s Law: The Wright’s Law website is dedicated to special education law and the law surrounding IEP’s.
- Wright’s Law: From Emotions to Advocacy: the Special Education Survival Guide. This is one of the most valuable books you will ever have if your child has an IEP. It details and explains the law, your rights, your child’s rights, and what the school can or cannot do. Seriously, get this book! I in no way benefit from you buying this book, but it has been such a valuable resource as I learn to navigate the world of special education.
Tip #5: Take Notes and Ask Questions
During the IEP meeting make sure you are taking notes. Things will be said and comments will be made that you might want to come back to. Jut down where you asked for a goal to be included. Write the comment from the physical therapist that was encouraging. Make sure you take notes of the teacher’s concern about your child’s safety in the playground so you can go home and do some brainstorming as you process the conversations that took place.
Don’t hesitate to ask questions. If you are confused why your child is not getting more time in speech therapy, ask. If you still don’t understand, ask again. Be polite though, don’t point fingers, and make the questions about yourself. For example, you can say, “I am still puzzled though, if we all agree speech is the greatest area of concern, why is my child only getting 40 minutes a week of speech therapy?”
Remember, you are an important and invaluable member of your child’s IEP team. Your know your child best and you are your child’s advocate. Be prepared, be professional, and be ready. And pray! Ask God to help you through the emotions of the IEP, to help you be a good advocate, and to help you build strong relationships with the rest of the team.
What has your IEP experience been like?
Leave a Comment
Ellen and I would love to hear about your IEP experiences, so please do leave a comment if you want. And if you have more ideas about how parents can prepare for IEP annual reviews, share them, too. The more the better!