Any parent whose child qualifies for special education services has participated in an IEP meeting before.
Typically held annually, parents are a vital role in the process and it’s important to head into the meeting informed and empowered to help your child in the best way you can.
Knowledge is power. And because the process can be a bit overwhelming (especially if it’s your first time) we’ve compiled the most important questions you need to ask and have answered at your child’s meeting.
- The names and roles of everyone in attendance at the meeting.
It’s important to know who is present, calling in, or providing written commentary that is discussed at the meeting. The names and titles of teachers, providers and specialists are incredibly important to notate as you should be in contact with them throughout the year to track progress, address concerns, and more.
- May I have a copy?
You are fully entitled to have a copy of the IEP. Remember to ask for it if it is not provided for you.
- May I have a translator?
If your preferred language is not English, it is your right to have a translator provided for you.
- Were my child’s goals met? If so, how? If not, why?
Measurable annual goals are an important piece of the IEP puzzle. They show how a child has grown through the year, and if they met the criteria that teachers set for them. These will be reviewed at each annual meeting and it’s important to understand what the goals were, how they were met, why they were not met, and what methods the teacher used to measure progress.
- How can I best implement support practices at home to help my child?
This is a great time to speak to the experts about ways you can encourage progress and growth at home. They should be able to provide you with readings strategies, math supports, social suggestions and skill-building ideas that will help you to reinforce the efforts they are putting forth in the classroom.
- What is my child’s biggest strength?
While IEP meetings can feel a bit focused on deficits and weaknesses, it’s so important to understand what is working and what your child does well. These need to be consistently celebrated and reinforced to encourage your child and help them develop healthy self-esteem.
- Can you clarify any diagnostic testing results?
Special education teachers, school psychologists/psychiatrists, and clinicians have extensive experience in reading reports, interpreting scores, and understanding diagnoses. Chances are, you probably don’t. It’s so important to walk away from this meeting fully understanding any scores, reports and verbiage listed that relates to both progress and diagnosis of your child.
At any time throughout the IEP process, you have any questions or concerns, it’s important to voice them. You are your child’s best advocate and you know them best. You should feel comfortable and informed every step of the way.
- “I think ____ is missing.” Or, “I disagree with _____.”
These aren’t questions, but they are an imperative part of the process. If you believe a service, accommodation or support is absent and your child would benefit from it, now is the time to speak up and discuss it. Furthermore, if there is anything you disagree with it is your absolute right a parent to voice that as well. An IEP meeting is not a dictatorship, it is a collaborative effort to arrive at the best manner in which your child will be taught to enable them to reach their goals.
- May we have more time? Can we reconvene at another time?
Sometimes the allotted time scheduled for the meeting may not be enough to discuss all of your concerns and questions. It’s important to know that there is no time limit set for these meetings, and you should never feel rushed out the door. The professionals in attendance may have other meetings or appointments, but that should not impact the quality of your time there. Don’t rush. If needed, be sure to ask for more time, or to reschedule for the time that you need.