An ESE Director’s 6 TIPS for Getting a Great IEP

Many times parents come into a meeting for their child and become intimidated by the number of people around the table and become silent. Remember, this meeting is about your child. You know your child far better than anyone sitting in the room. Don’t be afraid to ask questions or for clarification if you don’t understand what someone has said. We want to help you understand the IEP process.
1. Spend some time the night before the meeting writing down pertinent information about your child. This helps us because your input is valuable as well as required.
2. Respect the perspectives of all the attendees as they too should respect your opinion.
3. Be aware that the schools may have limitations so be creative. Sometimes some of the best solutions don’t need to be expensive.
4. Stay on topic during the meeting. Don’t bring up what happened in kindergarten when you are working with your child now in the fifth grade.
5. Watch your nonverbal language too. If you fold your arms, or sigh you might be giving off an impression that you are angry. Request a time-out if you feel frustrated and ask to speak with the person in charge of the IEP meeting.
6. Remember, an IEP must include the “special services and accommodations that are necessary to enable the child to participate and progress in the general curriculum. That is not the same as including the entire educational curriculum itself.
Every child is required to meet standards set by the state. These standards are available to parents from the internet or from the teacher. What the IEP should indicate is what accommodations need to be made or what additional services should be given so that child can meet those standards. This could mean for example, a student needs to pass Algebra but because of the disability, the student will first learn fractions, then algebraic formulas, then complete the first semester in year 1 and in year 2, he will progress to figuring out 4 step algebra equations. Some parents want every step written on an IEP-like a contract-that’s not required or necessary.