As a mama of a kid with speech and language issues (and a toddler with speech delays), I know all too well about IEP meetings and setting up goals and plans to reach his milestones. It’s something that began as soon as my son started kindergarten and speech therapy.

5 Ways To Prepare For Your Kid's IEP Meeting | Naturally Stellar

Now that he is in the midst of 4th grade, me and the hubbs have grown used to interacting with his speech pathologist at school. The paperwork doesn’t seem so bad now and our questions have become few over the years.  

For all of you that may be new to the IEP process, I thought it would be a good idea to share some practical tips to help you prepare for your first IEP meeting and help you on the road to success with your child.  

What is an IEP?

An IEP (Individualized Education Plan) is basically a document packet that outlines goals for your child’s education and treatment for special needs.  It explains how services will be provided to your child and it’s created by a team who reviews it at least annually, at an IEP meeting.  If you can’t attend in person, due to work or other reasons, you can usually make a request to attend this meeting by phone.

5 Ways To Prepare For An IEP Meeting

Tip #1 – Confirm meeting attendance. At least 10 days before an IEP meeting, you should receive a letter of invitation. As soon as possible, RSVP for the meeting in writing. Inform the school if you will attend the meeting in person or by phone. If you are not available to attend the meeting at all, propose alternative dates and times, even locations.

Tip #2 – Review draft documents before the meeting. At least 5 business days before the meeting, you should receive drafts of the documents (e.g., IEP, Behavior Intervention Plan, evaluations) to be discussed during the IEP meeting. Take time to review these documents before the meeting.

Tip #3 – Carefully review draft documents and write down your questions and notes. 

Make sure you understand your child’s diagnosis. Ask for clarification of education or treatment jargon if needed. Goals and objectives should be clear. Make sure you understand start date(s), how long services are offered, and the procedures involved. If your child is not progressing toward a goal as you had hoped, ask how this will be addressed, or if a goal should be revised. If you want more frequent updates on progress during the school year, you can request additional updates. If you think something else might help your child, come prepared to discuss it. Write down any proposed changes to the IEP and any information you would like to add.
5 Ways To Prepare For Your Kid's IEP Meeting | Naturally Stellar

Tip #4 – Invite additional people to the IEP meeting if you want them there and think they can contribute. An IEP meeting takes a “team” approach to helping your child. Take the initiative to invite individuals who have relevant knowledge or expertise regarding your child (such as, family members, coaches, community support workers, social workers, attorneys, advocates, etc.). Let the school team know that additional people will attend the meeting.

Tip #5 – Strive to build a healthy working relationship with the school, treatment providers, and the entire IEP team. Developing healthy and professional relationships with the school and treatment providers can help your child. Be open to discussing issues promptly, directly, honestly and courteously.  Ask questions and listen carefully to answers. This will allow you to respond appropriately and avoid misunderstandings.

I hope these tips helped to put your mind at ease about what to expect and empowered you to be prepared.  Please feel free to leave any questions or comments below the post.

Today’s tips were provided by The Episcopal Center for Children
The Episcopal Center for Children (Center) is a nonprofit, nondenominational school and treatment program for children contending with emotional challenges from the greater Washington, D.C. metropolitan area. Accredited by the Joint Commission, the Center serves children who are 5-14 years old in grades K-8. For more info: 


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