IEP meetings can be stressful, but they don’t have to be. Below are some tips to make your meeting run smoothly
- Understand the W’s. Why are you there? What will you be discussing? Who is supposed to be there? What data is being discussed? What is the process? What outcome do I desire? Don’t go into any meeting with out an understanding of the Ws.
- Ask questions. You are a critical component of the meeting and your perspective is incredibly valuable. If there is a word you don’t understand, ask for it to be explained. If there is a metric you would like clarified, ask. If there is anything discussed that you are not clear about, ask, ask, ask.
- Keep calm. There may be things said in the meeting you don’t agree with. There may be things that are disappointing or frustrating. Talking about the strengths and weaknesses of our children is difficult. As parents to children with learning differences we are often already tired and stressed about other areas of life; take a breath and stay calm. If you feel your emotions ready to take over, call for a break, or if it has gone too far you can ask to complete the meeting at another time.
- Come with your game plan. Know at least a few things that you would like to accomplish during the meeting. Is there a goal you would like to see implemented? Do you need further explanation on how things work? Is there a service or support that you would like to see implemented? Know what you want and be confident enough to ask.
- Don’t go alone. I can’t stress this one enough. Bring an advocate, a friend, a co-worker, someone. Even if you have gone to these for the past 10 years, even if you follow all the steps above, even if you think you got it in the bag, don’t go alone. Having someone else in your corner not only gives you more moral support but it gives you someone outside of the situation to ask later. It gives you a person that can back you up when you need it, a person that can take notes and a person not emotionally involved that can help navigate the process.