Enrolling your child into special education is the best
thing you can do for your child if they have severe learning disabilities or
special needs. However, getting
started with the program can be intimidating since there are so many steps and
meetings. Don’t feel overwhelmed
by this new adventure; instead rely on helpful teachers or school
administrators and other parents who have been down the same path before.
Preparing for the first Individual Education Plan (IEP) meeting
is a sure way to establish yourself as the key role on your child’s IEP team. The
first meeting may be the most important meeting because it in essence a legal
meeting to write up the IEP for your child. This meeting will include all of
the necessary accommodations, tools, and help the school promises to provide.
The IEP may also require efforts on your part as well.
Before going to your first IEP meeting, talk with your child
to see what their feelings about the IEP meeting and school are. Find out how
they like school, if they are getting along with the other students, and if
they like the teacher. Many of your child’s answers can be important to bring
up in the meeting, especially if your child is having issues with the teacher
or other students in class.
Another thing to consider and write down for the meeting are
your child’s strengths and learning style. While the evaluation may have gotten
a feel for your child’s learning style and abilities, only you as the parent
can truly know how your child is. Feel free to bring up what you believe your
child needs to excel in the classroom, as well as their social needs. Don’t
forget to include your child’s strengths and interests, as well as what you and
your child’s short-term and long-term education goals are. All of this information
is to give the IEP team a better overall understanding of your child and the
When it comes to the actual meeting, you will want to bring
pen and paper to take notes on. There will be many important matters said
during the meeting, so it is vital to take notes. Write down all of your
concerns, questions, and ideas. If you disagree with something or do not
understand a certain point, do not be afraid to say so.
Parents are also allowed to bring in an advocate or
professional, either in person or on the telephone.
Parents may choose to have a special needs attorney or their child’s therapist
assist them with the meeting. These professionals can add important input or advise
Your first IEP meeting is sure to be long and daunting.
However, once it is done, your child can get the help they need. You can feel
good about allowing your child to learn at his or her own pace, with all of the
extra assistance they need.
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