6 Ways to Boost Confidence and Reduce Frustration With the IEP Process

By Kristin Stanberry

38Found this helpful
38Found this helpful

Are you uncertain about the IEP process and IEP meetings? These tips can help you get familiar with IEPs and build your confidence.

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Lean on a good relationship with an IEP team member.

There’s no doubt about it: Parents must learn a lot to understand the IEP process. But you don’t need to go it alone. Do you already have a good relationship with another member of the IEP team? Maybe your child’s general education teacher or the school psychologist would be willing to help you learn the ropes. You also can ask the PTA or the school to provide information sessions for parents of students with disabilities. Having a friendly guide will make the learning process easier.

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Don’t go to the IEP meeting alone.

Maybe you already keep in touch with your child’s teacher. But lots of new information is covered during a typical IEP meeting. A family member or friend can provide an extra set of “eyes and ears”—plus a sense of comfort. Before the meeting, decide what role she’ll play. Take notes so you can focus on the discussion? Help you think of questions to ask during the meeting? Be sure to tell the school in advance that you’re bringing a guest.

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Turn to trustworthy, parent-friendly resources.

Become familiar with the IEP process, terminology, special education services and your legal rights. This website is a comprehensive resource you can rely on. Try to pace yourself, and take time to absorb and understand the information. You can start by reviewing our IEP roadmap.

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Relish your role as a member of the IEP team.

Accept yourself as a full and equal member of your child’s IEP team. The other team members may be experts in education, but you’re an expert on your child. The intimate knowledge you have of your child is valuable. Share what you know about your child’s development and learning experiences, past and present. Watch and listen to your child, and document what you observe. What’s revealed to you may be the “missing link” that will help the IEP team serve your child well.

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Keep track of IEP timelines and deadlines.

The IEP process involves many timelines and deadlines. Find out if the federal Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) or your state requires the school district to respond to your request (for an evaluation or another decision point) within a certain time frame. Mark that deadline on your calendar. The reverse is true, too. If you have to sign an IEP or file a complaint within a set time frame, jot it down. This can keep you from worrying and help you stay on top of things.

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Join a parent community for strategies and support.

Build a network with other parents through our online community. You can also look for local parent groups. When families share strategies and successes, the IEP journey is easier to navigate. With time and experience, your confidence will grow.

View the tips again

5 Important Things to Do Before an IEP Meeting

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.

5 Ways to Politely Decline the School’s IEP Draft

At the end of an IEP meeting, you may be asked to sign a draft of the IEP. If you disagree with any part of the IEP, you don’t have to sign right away. Try these tips to make your case.

About the Author

Portrait of Kristin Stanberry

Kristin Stanberry is a writer and editor specializing in parenting, education and consumer health/wellness.

Reviewed by

Portrait of Whitney Hollins

Whitney Hollins is a special education teacher and adjunct instructor at Hunter College.

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