Are you Ready for your Child's IEP?

Tips and resources for parents when preparing for the IEP and other challenges.

Parents with young children

As a parent, you never stop advocating for your children whether they are 8 or 28. While you may have many great educators, friends, and therapists, you are ultimately “guiding the ship”— clearing the path for your child on their school and life journey. This role can be challenging, and one of the challenges you will face is the IEP meeting. This meeting is the direction-giving forum where all of the educators, administrators, and therapists are in the same room, so using this time effectively so everyone is on the same page is crucial.


Parent, Roberta C., gives these tips to help prepare for the IEP meeting


In an effort to prepare for the upcoming IEP meeting, spend some time thinking about the kinds of expectations you have for your student. Write those down before the meeting so you can compare thoughts and ideas with the school. Academic and Life Skills goals are two areas to try to find a balance that most benefits your child. And most importantly, prepare some questions to show that you are, and want to be and to keep informed.

Here are 7 things to keep in mind:


  1. Understand what services and accommodations your child is entitled to — Every State’s Department of Education website lists the rights and responsibilities of special education within that state. If the accommodations are listed such as word-prediction, read aloud, etc… and they aren’t in your child’s IEP bring this information to the meeting with you.
  2. Know that you can acquire services from an outside entity — If your child needs and is entitled to a certain service or accommodation that the school is unable to provide, you may (in collaboration with the school) seek an outside entity to provide what is missing.
  3. Investigate service provisions available and in neighboring districts — Particularly in the areas of OT, PT, and Speech Therapy. Leverage this information when you are petitioning for the amount of time per week or per day your child will have access to these services.
  4. Remember that services pull your child out of something else — If your targeting academic goals, consider what class time your child will miss while receiving these services.
  5. Standardized Testing Accommodations — Ask what allowances or accommodations will be made for standardized tests. For example, if your child uses a writing accommodation, petition that this is allowed during testing as well.
  6. Track Progress — Require that milestones and steps are charted out to reflect how your child will meet the goals established. Also, find out how to ensure your child’s IEP carries from grade to grade so that you don’t have to start from scratch each time but instead evolve their plan.
  7. Set up communication loops with all parties — How often you will communicate? In what form will you communicate? e.g. phone, email, take-home letter, homework book, etc.

One of the most important things you can do is communicate with your child, ask them about school and the things that do and don’t work for them. Being heard and having some control over their education can promote independence and help move towards strong decision making in the future.

Other Resources

Connecting with other parents and resources can help give you the energy and ideas to push forward and advocate for your child. Here’s a list of some of the top websites for Parents to find information as well as resources and support for their child’s unique set of needs:


The PACER center (Parents for Children with Disabilities)
Started as Parents Helping Parents, the PACER Center brings together a strong advocacy focus for parents of students with more significant physical and cognitive needs.. Their efforts help to enhance the quality of life and expand opportunities for people with disabilities and their families. Here is an article from PACER about preparing for the IEP.


Understood / NLCD
Understood focuses on learning disabilities and offers resources for parents including state-of-the-art technology, free access to experts, a secure online community, practical tips, and more. Here is a wonderful article from Understood about self-advocacy goals.


Decoding Dyslexia
This is a parent organization focused on advocacy for students with dyslexia. They offer some great resources that highlight ways to bring awareness and change to your community for your child.


The Autism Support Network
This is a community of professionals and families whose lives have been touched by ASD. It has resources and news as well as forums and blogs full of great information. It is a great way to connect with others who are seeking to share similar information as well as promote a cycle of support and learning.

Human Learning Link

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