IEP meetings can be information overload, even when you are prepared. You are bombarded by teacher reports, evaluation summaries and suggestions for your child’s academic future. IT IS A LOT!
As a speech-language pathologist, I have to sit in IEP meetings, almost daily so I have a few questions and tips that I think are very important for parents.
SLP’s Advice on IEP Meeting
- The first thing I always tell parents is that if you don’t understand something, ask us to repeat it or explain it further. If you don’t stop us and ask us to re-explain, we assume you are understanding and won’t go back. It’s important for your child’s success that you understand the language and suggestions that are being put in the IEP.
- Bring a notebook/piece of paper and pen to the meeting. I can count on one hand how many times I’ve seen parents do this in a meeting. This way, if educators are talking and something pops into your head, you can write it down so you don’t forget!
- If your child has had any recent outside evaluations such as a neurological evaluation, please bring that with you. You should also bring a list of any medications and recent diagnoses (along with reports) that you have received. That will help the team determine the best placement and modifications for your child.
- Educate yourself about simple IEP laws. There are certain aspects of an IEP, such as re-evaluation dates and timelines, that the school needs to follow. I’m not saying schools don’t follow that, but it’s important to know your rights as parents.
- Re-Read your child’s current IEP. Do you think their academic needs are being met? Are you seeing any current struggles or strengths? Don’t be afraid to share YOUR thoughts!
Get more information on how individualized educational plan (IEP) works for preschool kids.
5 Questions To Ask During an IEP Meeting
I’m going to give you a basic list of questions that you will want to ask in an IEP meeting. Of course, every child is different and, depending on your child’s specific needs and diagnosis, there may be more questions that you can ask. If you’d like specific examples, please reach out to Speech Blubs and let us know!
1. How can I contact you?
Each member of the IEP team will have a direct phone number and email address. As a speech pathologist, I always make sure parents have my email address so they can contact me whenever necessary.
2. What can I do at home to support his/her goals?
For ANY student, the most progress is seen when carryover is done at home. This goes for emotional AND academic progress. Any therapist or educator should be able to give you advice on how to work on specific goals at home.
3. What types of modifications are in place to help my child be successful?
In our IEP’s, we have modifications for the special needs level and for the general education level. These supports vary in degree depending on the class level.
4. What do the supports look like on a daily basis?
Academic and behavior support can be provided in many ways. Will the support be a pull-out model (student removed from the class for small-group support) or a push-in model (the support staff blends into the classroom for a period of time)? I’ve often sat in meetings where parents were unaware their child was being taken to a separate classroom for academic support and seemed surprised. You should know exactly what your child’s day looks like!
5. What would you do if this was your child?
I am always honest with my parents in regard to their child’s strengths and weaknesses because, if it was one of my kids, I’d expect the same. I had one student who had plateaued and just wasn’t making progress. He was better suited in a life skills class and we just didn’t offer that at my district. The parent asked me this exact question and I gave her a very honest answer. She cried and thanked me for my honesty. She wanted the truth and she finally got it.
Those are the top 5 questions I would be prepared to ask at the IEP meeting. Again, there are many more, but are specific to disorders/syndromes.
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Stacie Bennett has been practicing as a Speech-Language Pathologist for the past ten years. Currently, she works full-time at a vocational high school in New Jersey and have her own private practice. Feel free to contact Stacie if you have any questions!