Preparation is the key to being an effective, confident advocate at your child’s IEP meetings. Here are five important things to do before an IEP meeting.
1. Pull and review your records.
Pull out your copies of official documents, including your child’s current IEP, recent progress reports, and report cards. Collect samples of your child’s homework, tests, and notes from the teacher. Gather your own notes and observations, too. (An IEP binder is a convenient way to keep all this stuff in one place.)
Once you have everything together, look for topics that need attention. Where is your child making progress or still struggling? What supports and services are (or are not) helpful? Are there new challenges to report?
2. Invite guests and advocates.
If you think you’ll need support at the meeting, invite someone to join you. This could be a friend or a family member, a professional who works with your child, or an advocate. Explain how you think they can help.
If need be, ask to meet with them before the meeting to go over your concerns, get their take, and plan your approach. If your child is going to the IEP meeting, make sure to prepare your child, too.
3. Prepare your questions and recommendations.
After reviewing your records and talking with your child, family, or invited guests, you may have a lot on your mind. It can help to make a simple list of the points you want to make during the
meeting. Boil it down to the basics: your concerns, questions, and suggestions. You can refer to this list during the meeting.
4. Tell the school about your guests and requests.
Let the IEP team leader know about any guests you plan to bring to the meeting. Give their names and explain their relationship to you and your child. If you or any of your guests need special arrangements, like videoconferencing or a translator, let the team leader know in advance.
5. Relax and reflect on your child.
Once you have everything ready for the meeting, try to relax and focus on your child’s strengths, interests, and challenges. Listen to what your child says about school and learning. Remember that you know and understand your child better than anyone else on the IEP team does. That mindset will help you approach the IEP meeting with strength and confidence.