Enrolling your child into special education is the best thing you can do for your child if they have severe learning disabilities or special needs. However, getting started with the program can be intimidating since there are so many steps and meetings. Don’t feel overwhelmed by this new adventure; instead rely on helpful teachers or school administrators and other parents who have been down the same path before.
Preparing for the first Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting is a sure way to establish yourself as the key role on your child’s IEP team. The first meeting may be the most important meeting because it in essence a legal meeting to write up the IEP for your child. This meeting will include all of the necessary accommodations, tools, and help the school promises to provide. The IEP may also require efforts on your part as well.
Before going to your first IEP meeting, talk with your child to see what their feelings about the IEP meeting and school are. Find out how they like school, if they are getting along with the other students, and if they like the teacher. Many of your child’s answers can be important to bring up in the meeting, especially if your child is having issues with the teacher or other students in class.
Another thing to consider and write down for the meeting are your child’s strengths and learning style. While the evaluation may have gotten a feel for your child’s learning style and abilities, only you as the parent can truly know how your child is. Feel free to bring up what you believe your child needs to excel in the classroom, as well as their social needs. Don’t forget to include your child’s strengths and interests, as well as what you and your child’s short-term and long-term education goals are. All of this information is to give the IEP team a better overall understanding of your child and the situation.
When it comes to the actual meeting, you will want to bring pen and paper to take notes on. There will be many important matters said during the meeting, so it is vital to take notes. Write down all of your concerns, questions, and ideas. If you disagree with something or do not understand a certain point, do not be afraid to say so.
Parents are also allowed to bring in an advocate or professional, either in person or on the telephone. Parents may choose to have a special needs attorney or their child’s therapist assist them with the meeting. These professionals can add important input or advise you wisely.
Your first IEP meeting is sure to be long and daunting. However, once it is done, your child can get the help they need. You can feel good about allowing your child to learn at his or her own pace, with all of the extra assistance they need.
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