If school officials have determined that your child qualifies for an Individualized Education Program, or IEP, you may be quite relieved. Children with IEPs can receive valuable accommodations that make it easier for them to learn alongside their peers.

However, before putting the plan into action, you will have an IEP meeting. These meetings occur regularly to review proposed solutions, revisit (or establish) goals and discuss services and supports. To prepare for these meetings, parents can take the following steps:

  1. Talk to your child. He or she may have thoughts on certain solutions or accommodations that parents can advocate for or against.
  2. Create a list of your questions, including what a typical day might look like for your child or how they will assess progress.
  3. Prepare yourself emotionally. These can be difficult meetings, and parents want to be protective of their child. You might also want to review some defusing phrases that can help you navigate heated discussions productively. 
  4. Get organized. Have a notebook and pen with you. Print out (or otherwise prepare) documentation to which you may need to refer, like past performance reports, laws and medical information on your child’s conditions.
  5. Familiarize yourself with the people who may attend the meeting. These are members of the IEP team, so it can be helpful to know who they are. Typically, one of your child’s teachers will attend as well as a special education teacher, someone from the district and a school psychologist. Others may be an attendance as well, depending on your district and child’s needs.

Taking the time to prepare for these meetings can make them a little easier to navigate. This is especially true if it is your first meeting or if you have struggled to secure appropriate special education services or enforce IEPs in the past.