3 Better Ways To Handle Your Child’s IEP Review
It’s that time of year again, IEP review time. May heralds a steady stream of parents flowing into schools to meet with special education teams to review goals for the current year and decide what will take place for services and goals for the next year. This is usually a very stressful time for parents who have had their difficulties feeling understood by their school district’s special education team. Maybe this is you.
Goals are set the year prior. That really is the only way it can be reasonably done but it does present some challenges. For children with physical and emotional needs, a lot can change for them over the summer. The goals you agreed to in May might not accurately match up for you and your child in October. What do you do when that happens?
For other families, the agreed to goals and services in one year may not materialize the way they envisioned them in the following year. It is hard to feel as though what was planned is not actually happening in real time and not succumb to anxiety as to how that will affect your child’s school year. Your child’s IEP review can have a better outcome if you prepare yourself emotionally for the task and employ a few of these tips to help you with the practical pieces of education plan management as a parent.
Focus On The IEP Review Not The Personalities Present
With something as emotionally charged as discussing education plans about your child, it is easy to get swept up in how you feel about the situation rather than actively pursue ways to overcome challenges and differences. When a sharp response comes across the table, it can leave a triggered parent feeling on the defensive rather than listening to what is being said and why.
The best thing you can do when you don’t understand or disagree is to remain calm and emotionally neutral. Breathe intentionally and start asking a lot of questions:
- What do you mean by that statement?
- I am not sure I follow you, can you clarify?
- What makes you believe that is true/not true?
- What I heard you saying is…is that correct?
- I don’t know what that term means, can you explain it further?
As the saying goes, “Seek first to understand, rather than be understood.” This truth goes a long way in avoiding conflict and continuing on a positive path to working through the IEP review. Emotions derail progress. Try and avoid making it personal. Most of the time it isn’t.
Employ Collaboration Instead Of Debating Opinions
You are part of an active team working together towards the success of your child’s educational career. Keep that in mind. Everyone at that table is trying to get to the goal of a successful educational experience; academically and emotionally for your child. As part of that team, it is imperative that you all work together towards the common goal.
It is not helpful to turn to debating when sticking points arise during the IEP review process. Asking how you can work together to come to an agreement is much better than digging your heels in and folding your arms when you are not aligned with the rest of the team.
Invite additional dialogue, offer to share insights that maybe the education team is not aware of, and if need be, hire a special education advocate or attorney to work on your child’s behalf if conversations have appeared to reach a stalemate.
If You Don’t Document It, Then It Didn’t Happen
If anyone in this profession can tell you anything that increases the chances for IEP review success, it’s document, document and document some more. The parent that is most prepared for an IEP review or any other stage in the education plan process is one that comes armed to the teeth with notes and documentation.
Keep a journal of everything and anything you think will impact the outcome of your child’s education plan:
- Has your child started seeing a psychologist or any out-of-school counselor?
- Did your child participate in any specialized therapies or services this year?
- What have the family social dynamics been like at home?
- How has your child been interacting with peers?
- What does the pediatrician or other professionals have to say about your child’s progress?
The best information is the recorded kind. Documentation is king. If you disagree with an IEP review, bringing information as to why will avoid much conflict and resolve things much more quickly.
eCare Vault Is Your Solution To Parent Driven Education Collaboration
Never before has there been a better way for a parent to keep track of documentation, share it with any professional involved in your child’s education plan journey, be able to collaborate holistically with those on the education team and allied professionals, all in one seamless application.
Recording notes can be as simple as hitting the app on your smartphone. Take pictures of examples and post them for all on the education team to see. Read comments from professionals about the IEP itself. Documentation and collaboration has never been so secure or easy. Best yet, it’s free for parents to use. Will you help yourself and your child’s education team get the IEP working for all by the end of the school year? That is up to you. Try it for free and see why it should be your first line of defense in the IEP review process.