On the day of the Individualized Education Program (IEP) meeting, keep the following points in mind:

  • Arrive on time. If you can’t, let the school know when to expect you or ask to have the meeting rescheduled.
  • Consider asking your spouse, partner, close family friend, relative, or parent-advocate to come with you for support and to take notes that you can later compare.
  • Bring a pad of paper and a pen, plus any notes you’ve prepared for the meeting.
  • Share your ideas and information about your child.
  • Ask questions when you don’t understand something.
  • Bring a copy of the previous IEP and/or copies of any evaluations of your child that may be discussed at the meeting.
  • Bring a copy of any articles, books, or suggested references that may be relevant to a topic at the meeting, and share that material with the IEP team.
  • Be polite but assertive at the meeting. Don’t be reluctant to offer your suggestions or to persist with your point of view if others disagree. Explain the reasons why you believe something is important for your child.
  • Listen to those who disagree, and try to think calmly about the pros and cons of their point of view. Being defensive or emotional isn’t an effective way of persuading others to your point of view.
  • Make your points clearly, and provide rationales and any documentation you have to back up your point. This might include educational and other recommendations from your child’s evaluations and information from experts on the topic.
  • Listen carefully to the other team members and their ideas about your child. Take notes if you want to share information with other family members after the meeting. Date your notes, and try to keep them together.
  • Be realistic about the abilities of your child. Work with the IEP team to determine the placement that will best meet your child’s educational needs.
  • Work with the IEP team to maintain a high level of expectation for your child’s ability to learn. In general, children often respond to what others expect; so your high expectations are likely to be helpful to your child.
  • Even if your child is in the early years of grade school, it’s not too early to ask about the different types of high school diplomas your state confers, and it’s not too early to ask what you can do to help your child work toward her post high school goals.
  • If you disagree with something that is said at the IEP meeting, voice your opinion in a constructive way. Explain why you disagree, and suggest possible alternatives for any proposed actions you don’t agree with.
  • The IEP will be written at the meeting so be sure that you receive a copy of the document for your records.

From A Parents’ Guide to Special Education for Children with Visual Impairments, edited by Susan LaVenture