It has probably been a while since you sat down and reviewed your child's IEP. As an important member of your child's IEP team, it is critical that you understand and agree with your child's individualized educational program. If you don't understand the IEP, how will know if it is being followed or needs to be changed?
Consider New Changes
Is your child moving from elementary school to middle school? Was your child evaluated over the summer? Has your child's diagnosis changed? Is the school switch from a 5-day to 6-day cycle? Is this your child's first year for the MCAS?
These are just a few scenarios where changes for your child might also require changes to the IEP. While IEP meetings occur annually, parents have the right to request an IEP team meeting to discuss how the IEP should be changed to accommodate new situations.
Discuss the IEP with Your Child's Educators
This step is especially important if a new educator did not participate in your child's last IEP meeting. Discussing the IEP ensures that all educators working with your child have read and are familiar with your child's IEP.
Ask questions. For example, who will be providing speach and language services? On what day? How many children will be in your child's social skills group this year? How old are they? The more questions you ask, the more you will understand, what, if anything has changed from last year.
Even if the new educators have read the IEP, it is important that they understand it. The IEP document is only a starting point. As a parent, you probably have many important insights about your child that will help the educators understand and interact with your child.
Start and Keep Good Advocacy Habits
Get in the habit of communicating to the school in writing. This will allow you to keep a better record of the school's communications. But don't just write if there is a problem. Send positive feedback too. And as with all email communication, be cautious about what you say. Don't write when you are emotional. Don't exaggerate. Be polite and courteous even if you think you are being treated unfairly. In the end, this will benefit you and your child.