It’s time for back to school, so you’ll need a backpack and glue sticks and some cool new shoes. And if your child has a disability that requires specialized services, it’s time to update your Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is a written plan for child and describes the services and supports the school system will provide to meet the child’s unique needs.
Here are some tips for getting your child’s IEP set up for the new school year:
Setting Goals - Your child’s IEP goals can include academics, life skills and social skills. Make goals specific, measurable, and result oriented. You’ll want to accurately track progress as the year progresses, and specificity will help make that possible. Goals should also be reasonable and accurately reflect where the student currently stands in the areas addressed and only include what is potentially achievable in the coming year. With these goals in place, the IEP team can design a program with the supports and services that will help the student reach those goals.
Before you Sign - Carefully review every section of the IEP for accuracy and appropriate goals and actions. You don’t have to sign an IEP immediately, it’s your right to discuss it with your family. If anything is incorrect or you feel there may be a better approach or more appropriate goal for your child, explain your thoughts in writing and ask them to be included in the IEP. If an IEP team member says the school district policy won’t cover some services your child needs, as for more information.
Share with your Child - Let your child know what their IEP is, what their goals are and your expectations. Also tell them that if they feel their IEP is not being used correctly, they can advocate for themselves with their teachers or come to you with questions or concerns.
Write a Cover Letter - The IEP may not cover all of your child’s less measurable needs. Include a cover letter detailing likes, dislikes, triggers, and tips so those on the front lines can have a more complete picture of your child.
Include Health Personnel - If your child requires medication daily, or in emergencies, make contact with the school nurse, teachers, and the administration and make sure they are all aware of these needs.
Set Up a Check In Meeting - Set a date early in the year for the first IEP review meeting to review implementation and progress. If anyone is having issues, they are best addressed sooner rather than later! Then make plans to check in regularly throughout the year.