Is your child on an IEP (Individualized Education Program) or 504 Plan with accommodations in the classroom?
Do you need help understanding the IEP process and participating as part of the IEP team for your child?
The following is an excerpt from author Pat Wyman and her book Successful IEP's - The Top 20 Success Strategies To Use Before During and After Your Child's IEP.
Working Cooperatively to Stack The IEP Odds In Your Child’s Favor
As a parent of a child who had special needs, a reading specialist, learning expert, author special education teacher and former school administrator, I’ve developed a unique perspective about an IEP over the past 25 years.
I thoroughly understand the IEP process from a parent’s point of view and have participated in hundreds of IEP (Individualized Education Program) meetings, counseling thousands of parents, teachers and students successfully through the process.
I’ve come to understand that there is a delicate balance to be achieved during the IEP process and it is only a “spirit of real cooperation” between parents and the school that will allow your child to achieve the success he or she deserves.
In this special section, I recommend that you do several things to stack the odds in favor of your child’s success before, during and after attending the IEP meeting. These items will save you time, give you a solid plan of action and help overcome any questions you may have about the special education process.
IEP meetings can create high levels of anxiety for parents.
Many parents have told me that they often feel intimidated in the meetings because they aren’t prepared, don’t know what to ask for, or can’t seem to get the school to cooperate with what they want.
During the IEP meeting, parents (and possibly their child) sit around a table, listen to all the “experts” talk about their child’s “deficiencies” and recommended “prescriptions” that will “make their child better”.
Many times, just the terminology alone feels overwhelming and it can be confusing, scary and uncomfortable all at once. Parents have told me that they often feel so overwhelmed they don’t even know where to start.
I know how this feels because I too am the parent of a child who had special needs. And… although I also was a school administrator, and a team member “expert”, I still felt a bit anxious during the first meeting about my son.
I designed this special chapter with an eye toward a more “cooperative spirit” between everyone involved and to maximize any child’s progress and success goals. I want to help parents manage the special education process by being more informed and prepared with specific strategies that will “raise the bar” on a process that I believe needs some rather major transformation.
Using these strategies, you’ll feel more in control of the process and be able to boost your child’s success in school at the same time. You and your child are as much a member of the “team” as every other person and you’ll gain more focus and build a stronger foundation for your child by implementing these techniques.
How To Get The Experts to Help You on The IEP
I’ve seen certain situations where parents get very aggressive when things don’t go the way they’d like and I’ve also seen schools get very defensive and stubborn in their position during an IEP meeting.
In the end, it is your child that suffers. Keep in mind that you and the school need to cooperate to achieve the best results for your child's IEP.
I recommend that you grab something to drink, sit down, and quietly and read this chapter with new eyes – remembering that it is your child’s self-esteem and academic success that are involved.
Keep in mind, you will not “direct” the IEP team, but will “participate” as a very informed parent, who has specific strategies, goals and objectives that they too want to contribute for their child’s success.
Later in the chapter, Lisa Simmons, an extraordinary special education advocate, lists 10 additional items to do prior to your child’s IEP.
Her number 10 item is to know your rights as a parent. These are presented to you in advance of the IEP meetings and Lisa says, “Review your rights! -- Right before you attend a meeting filled with professionals is the perfect time to read again how the federal laws "see" your role as parent.
It will reinforce your feeling of importance within the team & also ensure that no one surprises you with any "questionable" tactics during the meeting”.
Click on this link for a printout of your Parental Rights and an overview of the IEP Process:
Parents and School Experts need to work together to achieve the best results for the child on their IEP.
This will not happen if the “see-saw” is unbalanced because one member of the team (the parent) does not understand the process, does not know their legal rights as a team member, is emotionally overwhelmed and cannot adequately participate, or does not have specific strategies to offer as well.
I’ve done the extensive research on proven learning strategies for your child and will spare you hundreds of hours of time. You’ll be able to take the book into your meeting with you, and share the relevant portions with the other team members.
Using these strategies, I’ve actually been able to take children out of special education programs and alleviate the need for an IEP at all.
The only reason many of them were in the RSP or other special classes and on an IEP for example, was due to the mis-match between how they learned and how they were tested. Once they added the visual learning strategies outlined in this book, their grades increased substantially and they overcame the need to be in special education classes at all!
Pat Wyman is a best selling author, founder of HowToLearn.com and America's Most Trusted Learning Expert. She is a university instructor, reading specialist, former school administrator and expert in how to develop the most successful IEP.
Posted by +Pat Wyman, author and founder of HowToLearn.com