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How Should you Prepare to go Back to School with an IEP?

Summer is almost over and school is right around the corner. Now is the perfect time to prepare yourself and your child for a new school year with their IEP. However, if you are anything like me, you are likely dreading going back to school. I dread having to explain my child’s strengths and weaknesses to his new teachers every year. Now is the time to get yourself together and prepare to advocate for your child so they can thrive and do their best. Below is a list of things that you can do to help prepare to get off on a great start of a new year.

Where is your IEP?

It’s so important to stay organized. Make sure that you have copies of your child’s prior year IEP and all of the paperwork and documentation on hand. You can put it in a binder to stay organized. This will help relieve your stress and will help you keep everything in one place rather than having to find missing paperwork. I know that I get extremely stressed when I misplace important papers. This helps me stay organized and helps me focus on what’s important rather than stressing about where I misplaced the paperwork.

Do you have a Communication Log?

Start a communication log and keep it in your binder. You will speak to so many different people ranging from school administration, your child’s teachers, providers, and so many others. It’s easy to lose track and it’s hard to keep track of everything. Print all emails and keep a log of all phone calls of any communication involving your child’s IEP. This will help you stay organized. It will keep everything in one place. It will be so helpful to have on hand if you need to refer back to previous emails or phone calls in the future.

What is your Child’s Current Level of Performance?

Your child’s current level of performance will likely need to be updated. If they do need to be updated, your child’s school will initiate formal or informal testing to determine any new present levels of performance. It’s vital that you provide input because you know your child best. You can also speak to your child’s therapist and providers to get their input. This input is so important because they work with your child throughout the school year and the summers. Get copies of any diagnostics or notes from their providers as well to show their progress during the summer months.

When Should you Contact your School?

You should contact your school prior to going back to school to set an IEP meeting date. It’s important to ask how the school plans to collect data on your child’s progress. This will help you determine how the school will measure progress sand regression during school closures such as the summer and during holiday breaks. This will lead to discussions on what changes need to be made to IEP goals if there are changes in the present levels.

What Services will be Provided?

Ask your school what services will be provided to your child during the school year. This will help you understand what services will be provided, when they will be provided, and who will be involved. This will also be important to coordinate with your child’s current providers as well to keep them updated. They may be asked to provide input or data to the school to assist in determine what services will be needed.

Should you Review your Child’s Goals and Objectives?

Absolutely! This is the perfect time for you to review your child’s goals and objectives. Make sure that you understand them. Do you understand how they are measured? If not, ask questions to help you understand. You should also show them to your child’s providers. They will play a vital role in helping your child reach their goals and objectives.

Who is on the Team?

Make sure that you know every member of your child’s IEP team. It’s important that every member of the team be familiar with your child’s IEP. Every teacher should also have a copy. This is so important especially since most of our kids switch classes and have multiple teachers. It’s important that every teacher understand your child’s IEP so they can follow it and do their best to help your child thrive.

What Now?

Stay calm and do one thing at a time. The IEP and 504 process is stressful enough. If you are organized and have all of your paperwork, you’ve won half the battle. Now you can focus on doing your best to advocate for your child. It’s so important for our children to see us remain calm. I try to always do my best to not let my children see me fall apart. It’s hard, but I want them to believe that I’ve got this and I’m confident that they can succeed. 

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