By Kristin Stanberry
Being a member of the IEP team requires confidence, collaboration and a commitment to your child. Here are five important ways to advocate for your child during an IEP meeting.
No one on the IEP team knows your child the way you do. The other team members may be experts about education, but you’re an expert about your child. Share your perspective on your child’s personality, interests, struggles and success. Cast a wide net. Describe how he behaves when doing homework, playing on sports teams and doing other activities outside of school. This will give the school insights into your child’s abilities and interests. It also will remind the team to tailor his IEP to him as an individual.
Everyone on the IEP team brings something to the table. You bring key insights and information about your child. Other team members offer experience and understanding of your child’s needs and strengths at school. If someone brings up an issue or solution you’re not sure of, hear them out. Sometimes issues may come up in school that don’t appear at home. After all, school is a different environment, with different rules and expectations. By working together, you can more fully discuss and address your child’s needs.
Special education laws and programs are complex. Even if you’re well prepared, you may hear new terms and references during an IEP meeting. When this happens, ask for explanations. You have a right to understand every detail and decision. You may want to ask in advance for notes to be taken during the meeting. Then ask for a copy of the notes at the end of the meeting.
Be aware of the goals you have for your child, and make sure the team understands your expectations. You can work together to create a plan to help your child achieve those goals. Together the team can figure out the best resources and effective instructional approaches. Be sure to ask questions about what the team proposes and even suggest changes.
Don’t allow others to gloss over IEP details that involve your rights. For instance, if you’re told that the district won’t cover certain services, ask to see the section of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that supports that. If you’re unsure about the IEP drafted in the meeting, don’t feel pressured into signing it. (Signing the attendance page doesn’t mean you agree with the IEP; it simply means you attended.) Exercise your right to take the IEP draft home and think it over. Be polite but firm. Ideally the other team members will respect you for standing your ground.
Are you uncertain about the IEP process and IEP meetings? These tips can help you get familiar with IEPs and build your confidence.
Your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) has been set in motion. How well is it working? Is the school delivering what it promised? Try these tips to monitor the situation throughout the year.
Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education and consumer health/wellness.
Whitney Hollins is a special education teacher and adjunct instructor at Hunter College.
5 Important Things to Do After an IEP Meeting
Download: IEP Goal Tracker
When and Why Teachers Can Be Excused From IEP Meetings
Will the School Provide a Translator at an IEP Meeting If I Need One?
Getting an IEP for Your Teen
The Teacher Isn’t Following My Child’s IEP. What Can I Do?
There was an error posting your reply.
Thanks for being a part of the Understood Community. Your comment will appear shortly, once it’s been reviewed.
*Please confirm you are not a robot.
Yimeng was a graduate student when she started to suspect she had learning and attention issues.
Kids with ADHD can have frequent mood swings. Learn why, and how you can help.
Six surprising ways this college student continues to be impacted.
He offers advice to his younger self. Find out what he says.
Sign up for weekly emails with helpful resources for you and your family.
This email is already subscribed to Understood newsletters. If you haven't been receiving anything, add firstname.lastname@example.org to your safe-senders list.
Name must have no more than 50 characters. Email address must be valid. Email message must have no more than 140 characters and cannot include the < > / \ special characters. Please fill out all fields and complete the reCAPTCHA to send a message.
*Please confirm you are not a robot.
Don’t worry—we saved what you wrote.
Sign up to get personalized recommendations and connect with parents and experts in our community.
Only members can view and participate in conversations.
Child’s nickname is private and only you can see it.