Parent Mentors Share Ideas for Successful Meetings
CCSD’s Special Education Parent Mentors Stacy Greene and Antoinette Nichols offer their ideas for preparing for annual Individual Education Program (IEP) meetings.
Student success often depends on parent involvement, and for those of us whose children have a disability, this usually means so much more than just knowing teachers’ names, homework due dates, CTLS passwords and the like. As parents of students with disabilities, we have spent years as IEP team members; here, we share our thoughts for preparing for that ever-important IEP team meeting and beyond.
One of the easiest ways to support your student is by establishing positive, ongoing communication with the IEP team. This includes communication with the teacher(s) along with anyone who supports your child at school, such as therapists, specials/elective teachers, school nurses, etc. Connecting with the team members – via email, phone call or communication log – helps to build relationships and thereby promote familiarity when it comes to working as a team at the IEP meeting.
“Get to know the key players on your child’s IEP team and their specific roles,“ says Stacy. “Try to acknowledge both your child’s strengths and weaknesses – be ready to share your knowledge with your child’s team but also embrace the team’s input. Always ask questions about anything you don’t understand, and remember, the team’s goal is your student’s ultimate success.”
Familiarity with the “language” of special education is also important, so take time to learn the abbreviations and acronyms that you will encounter as you navigate the special education process for your child. Always ensure you are familiar with the specifics of your student’s current IEP and review a draft copy prior to the IEP meeting. Consider discussing the IEP document with your child. It is helpful to provide your questions and input to the team prior to the meeting so that everyone can be prepared to address your concerns.
Antoinette encourages parents to also bring that draft IEP to the team meeting with their written questions and notes. “Pre-IEP preparation is just as important as the actual IEP meeting,” she says. “Take time to think about the reality of your child’s needs and abilities, and come to the meeting with an open mind about new ideas or suggested compromises. Everyone might hit upon new strategies that would work for your child.”
Maintaining a friendly, calm attitude is helpful during any IEP meeting and can assist with keeping the focus of the meeting on your student’s progress and goals. After each IEP meeting, consider reviewing the updated IEP with your child, and lastly, file the document within an IEP binder or digital folder you maintain that also includes information like medical/developmental history, evaluations, previous IEPs, and communication pieces.
As a parent, you are a natural advocate for your child, so it makes sense that you play an active role in your child’s IEP meetings and their life at school. If you have questions about prepping for an IEP meeting, please reach out to us.
Facebook: Cobb Special Education Parent Mentors
Stacy Greene and Antoinette Nichols
Special Education Parent Mentors