IEP and annual review season has arrived. Thest IEP tips can help parents advocate effectively for their children during IEP and annual review meetings.

A few weeks ago, I attended the Engage Conference sponsored by 99 Balloons. One of the workshop sessions was a panel discussion called Navigating the IEP. The panel consisted of 2 parents of kids with IEPs and 1 educator who often attends IEP meetings and annual reviews. The moderator, Matt Mooney, asked the members of the panel to share their best 2 pieces of advice for parents involved in the IEP process. Their answers were wise enough to merit passing along to parents getting ready for their children’s initial IEP meeting or annual review.

Joe’s IEP Tips

Joe first advised parents to be patient and willing to compromise on non-essentials. Parents are their kids’ biggest advocates and want a lot for them. But some requests aren’t reasonable or essential. For his son, that meant not pressing for inclusion in every subject area while insisting his son’s one on one paraprofessional move with him from grade to grade. Second, Joe reminded parents that whatever is in the IEP must be followed. So it’s important that what’s essential for your child is written in the IEP. Parents should then firmly, but without rancor, insist the IEP be followed.

Ashley’s IEP Tips

Ashley’s first piece of advice was to know what you want for your child. You know your child better than the educational experts do. You are also part of the IEP team and have the knowledge to customize the plan to meet your child’s unique needs. Several of the goals presented at her daughter’s initial IEP meetings were not appropriate for her child. So Ashley asked for time to read through the IEP, study the goals, and return at a later date with more appropriate goals. Her second recommendation was that parents try to cultivate a team atmosphere with the experts at the IEP meeting. Most likely parents will deal with the same team of experts for many years, and they really do care about their students. It’s in the child’s best interest to maintain good relationships with them.

Mindy’s IEP Tips

Mindy, who is an educator often present at IEP meetings, counsels parents to be well-informed so they understand what’s being discussed at the initial IEP or annual review meetings. The more informed the parents are, the more likely the school is to meet their children’s needs. She also reminds parents that communication can be hard at IEP meetings. If they can reign in their emotions, it makes a big difference.

Your Best IEP Tips

Okay, now it’s your turn. Leave a comment about your best IEP tips or your reaction to what Joe, Ashley, and Mindy shared. Thanks!

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