Top Tips for a Productive IEP Meeting
Collaboration is a crucial element to developing and maintaining an IEP that works for your child. It’s important to resolve conflicts and take a positive, open-minded approach when working with your team. Here are a couple of top tips to ensure a child-focused IEP meeting.
Tip # 1: Parents Take the Lead
All IEP teams have disagreements from time to time. However, disagreements don’t have to become combative, hostile, or derail your IEP meeting. Everyone must make an effort to collaborate and communicate for the good of the child, and parents must take the lead on this.
For a parent, collaboration starts with attitude. Start by reminding yourself that each team member began their career to help children. Assume that all team members want what’s right – even if you disagree on what right is. During your IEP meeting, restate what others have said to clarify their intentions. Ask questions, and use “I statements” when talking about your child. Frequently use your child’s name to keep the meeting focused on him or her.
Tip # 2: Empathy Makes All the Difference
Try to take an empathetic approach, understanding that the team works with many students (not just your child). Keep an open mind, and be prepared to think flexibly. Respect that the team has years of expertise and sees your child in a different environment than you – one where he or she may act completely differently than at home. Make an effort to stay positive and polite, while also holding firm to your non-negotiables. Be upfront about your boundaries for your child. This will help the team work around them and contribute to a productive IEP meeting.
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