How to Best Prepare for Your Child’s IEP Meeting - Harbor School

How to Best Prepare for Your Child’s IEP Meeting

preparing for an IEP meeting

Attending Individualized Education Program (IEP) meetings is one of the important ways that you help guide and monitor your child’s progress in school. The more you know about IEPs, the more you can contribute to a positive, constructive conversation with your child’s team at school. Being prepared can help you go into the meeting feeling confident and capable of advocating for your child.

What is an IEP?

An IEP (individualized education program) is a legal document covered by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) that lays out the program of special education instruction, supports, and services your child is entitled to at school. Each program is individually designed to meet the student’s unique needs.

The purpose of the annual IEP meeting is to review and update your child’s plan for services and support for the next year. That involves looking at how much progress your child made over the last year, and how the goals, services, and supports should be adjusted for the next year.

Here are some suggestions to help you participate as a full member of the team that plans and provides the right help to meet your child’s present needs:

  • Know what kind of IEP meeting it is. Know the purpose and format of the IEP meeting ahead of time. It helps to know what exactly is being discussed so you can prepare properly. Read the form sent home to you carefully. Call the school if you are unsure.
  • Know who's coming to the meeting. The form sent home should also say who will be attending. Again, call if you are unsure. It also helps to build a positive relationship with at least one person on the IEP team, such as the classroom teacher, principal, or school psychologist so you will recognize someone when you walk into the meeting.
  • Reread your child's past IEPs and goals. Review the current reports, last year’s IEP, and Parents’ Rights and Responsibilities sent to you. Read the teacher's notes on each goal. Make sure you know what the current goals are and if your child is reaching them. Be prepared to share your thoughts about your child’s progress on last year’s goals. If you have time, it's good to reread all of your child's past IEPs and reports before the meeting. This can help you see your child’s progress over the years, and where the progress is plateauing.
  • Know your child's current levels in school. Research the academic and behavior standards for your child’s grade level and have a good understanding of where your child is or is not meeting those standards. Observe your child in the school setting if possible, so you are aware of the child’s unique challenges. This honest assessment is important so you can help make appropriate goals and revisions.
  • Bring a list. Plan ahead and write a list of goals that you would like for your child, and concerns about your child’s progress. Also prepare a list of questions about what support services are available for your child, such as behavioral support/intervention, social opportunities, and flexibility around your child’s unique circumstances.
  • Bring any current medical reports that will help your school make goals. If your child has seen a specialist or doctor since the last meeting, send copies of the reports to the team ahead of time so they can be familiar with the data before the meeting.

All of these tips and recommendations are geared to make your IEP meetings constructive, positive, and clear to all attending. Together as a team, everyone is looking out for the best interest of your child.

Harbor School a private special education school in Monmouth County, New Jersey

Our mission at Harbor School is to help all of our special needs students with learning, social, language, behavioral, and other disabilities. Our highly skilled staff are committed daily to helping each student reach their full potential.

We would be more than happy to discuss your child's specific needs and challenges, so please call us at 732.544.9394, or request a tour at Harbor School in Eatontown, NJ. We are located just minutes off of the Garden State Parkway at exit 105 and conveniently located off of Route 35 and Route 36 in Monmouth County, NJ.