Every fall, a lot of parents ask us for advice about what to expect from and how to plan for their child’s Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting. The process can seem daunting, especially for first-timers. We’ve been involved in countless of them and, truthfully, there’s nothing to sweat. Here are a few suggestions on how to get ready for Franny’s first semester IEP meeting.
1. Get to know what’s involved in creating and maintaining an IEP
In case you’re not yet familiar, an IEP is a working document that details individualized accommodations that Freddie needs to help him learn at school. The plan includes learning objectives that have been adjusted or differ from the typical Ontario curriculum, as well as other key things, which are outlined on page 8 of Ontario Ministry of Education’s The Individual Education Plan Resource Guide.
Before it’s drafted and implemented, assessments may be done to determine your kiddo’s areas of strength and need, and parent-teacher meetings usually occur to ensure everyone’s on the same page. An IEP meeting is your chance to share insights about Freddie’s personality and learning requirements. It is your right as a parent to request a meeting to discuss IEP goals if the teachers don’t schedule one. IEPs should be reviewed and updated at the beginning of each term, so expect to meet with school staff again in the winter. There are many prongs to the process, so if you’re new to IEPs, be sure to read the Resource Guide. It’s good to be in the know!
2. Make a list of your child’s strengths, needs and helpful accommodations**
Give copies of your list to Franny’s teacher. This list is especially important if your child or teacher is new to the school. Your list will help the teachers understand your child better. It is important to keep this list brief (1-2 pages) and in point form so that it’s easy to read.
**NOTE: The school board uses the terms “accommodations” and “modifications” to mean two different things. Accommodations are tools or strategies used to help students learn, such as note-taking assistance, visual cues and reinforcement incentives. Modifications are actual changes to the curriculum.
3. Ensure that observable and measurable goals are included in the IEP
When you review your child’s IEP, make sure that the outlined goals are attainable and measurable. Trying to achieve ambiguous accomplishments gives you no way to measure your child’s success. When possible, try to quantify the results that you are hoping to achieve with percentages or time (for example: Freddie will sit in circle for 10 minutes without fidgeting 80 percent of the time). This will allow you to measure what Freddie has achieved and readjust accordingly next term.
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