What is An IEP?
Your child’s world has just been turned upside down. You, the parent, are just as confused and upset to learn that your child has a learning disability. Your child’s school has just informed you that, you need to attend and IEP meeting. You wonder if this is another label that is being imposed upon your child. Actually, an IEP is what’s going to help your child be as successful and he / she can possibly be, while attending and participating in the school’s curriculum.
An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) will help your child receive the best possible education they can receive, despite the disability. The IEP is a written plan on how the school will meet your child’s needs. It is a legal contract that will include the type of services your child requires in order to be a successful student. Best of all, you are a key member of the IEP team, which decides what services are suited for your child.
IEP’s may change from district to district or school to school, but they all pretty much cover the same thing. A general sample of an IEP will include:
A Statement of Child’s Ability: This may also be called The Present Level of Performance. This may list what your child does well and what the problem areas are.
Goals for the School Year: The IEP must state specific goals and objectives that are targeted for your child to master. The goals have to be measurable and progress towards the goals must be regularly monitored by the teacher.
Related Services: Are services that may help your child reach their IEP goals. These services may include; speech / language therapy, physical / occupational therapy, classroom accommodations, resource room programs, and special transportation.
Opportunities for Regular Education: Although your child has a disability, the IEP will allow your child to participate within the general with students who do not have disabilities. This means that your child still has the opportunity to; attend regular classes, participate in the arts, physical education class, attend field trips and of course may have lunch with their regular education peers.
Transition Services: Transition services will help your child prepare for life after graduation. Starting at the age of 14, your child will have the opportunity to sit in during the IEP meetings. At age 16, your child will have the opportunity to give input into the goals they wish to achieve during the school year. They will also have the opportunity to decide what they would like to accomplish after graduation. Transition services may offer job training, independent living skills, and or preparation for college.
Remember, you are your child’s first and best advocate. No one knows your child better than you. So get involved and stay involved in your child’s education. As a key IEP team member, your input is very important to the development of that plan. The information that you share can assist in getting the services that your child needs. Be sure to state what the areas of concern are for your child and the goals you would like to see them achieve. You and your child have rights, so don’t feel pressure to agree with the IEP. Ask questions and feel free to request more time to think about the terms of the IEP, before you sign it. Remember it’s a legal contract.