Cheering your child on to success – how to prepare for an IEP
I am a fan of public education; I wave my pennant because I am proud to be a product of it. I also shake a big pom-pom to show that I believe in an Individualized Education Program (IEP). An IEP is the game plan to help students with special needs score the ultimate “touchdown” to become an educated and an independent individual.
What is an IEP?
An Individualized Education Program, commonly referred to as an IEP, is mandated by the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). IDEA requires public schools to develop an IEP for every student with a disability, who is found to meet federal and state requirements for special education. The IEP must be designed to provide the child with a Free Appropriate Public Education (FAPE). The IEP refers to the educational program to be provided to the child with a disability, and to the written document that describes the program.
What is Great About an IEP?
What I love about this approach is that a team of professionals interact with you and your child, and help develop a customized plan. The team evaluates many factors including access to the general curriculum, how the student’s disability affects the student’s learning, it helps develop goals and objectives that make the biggest difference for the student, and ultimately, it helps to decide a placement that is the least restrictive for the student.
The Role of the Parent- It All Starts With You!
The reality is that it really doesn’t matter how great the school district is, or how wonderful the teachers are, if a parent or guardian is not actively involved. One of the most vital members of the IEP team is a member of the child’s home unit.
Be Pushy With a Purpose -Fight For Your Kid!
Our son, Wyatt, just turned seven. He started in the public School system’s Pre-K ESE program at the age of three. I will tell you that I have not always been a fan. I have made many mistakes in my effort to fight for Wyatt. But during the course of four years (and more than a dozen IEP’s), I have learned a lot. I have cried, anguished, and alienated people who tried to help. I still have not mastered it all.Here are a few tips that I hope will help other parents be “pushy with a purpose” for their kids:
1. Imagine What You What For Your Child
You have to think about what it is that you want for your child. What goals do you think need to be set? How will these goals be supported by what you do at home? What support(s) do you think need to be put in place to get there? It’s OK to dream big! We longed to hear our child speak. It took almost four years to make it happen, but we did it!
2. Remember that There is No One 'Cookie cutter' Plan for Every Student
Just because a friend was able to secure a one-to-one aide does not mean that you will also be afforded that opportunity.There is no access by association. It is also important to remember that yo...