School’s almost out for summer, and that means special needs parents everywhere are pulling their hair out and drinking lots of wine.
If you managed to survive your child’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP) meeting unscathed you deserve a MAJOR AWARD. Even if you walked out of that room full of teachers, therapists, and school administrators wanting to hurl, there’s hope.
IEPs are fluid. This is not an end game.
Other than your child, you are the most important person on your child’s IEP team. That’s because you know your child best. Likely, you’ve become an expert on your child’s strengths and weaknesses.
If you’re reading this, I know you’ve spent countless hours scouring the Internet for expert advice on inclusion and educational best practices.
So, now is the time to get organized. Rally the troops, because next year’s IEP meeting is going to be EPIC!
Here’s 3 steps to make next year’s IEP meeting run as smoothly as possible:
Organize all those documents CHRONOLOGICALLY!
- As a former teacher, I realize failure to document can come back to bite you in the “you know what.” Keep all of your child’s records – from evaluations to letters home to IEPs to that adorable little Mother’s Day painting he made you this year. But how?
- First, go out and buy the BIGGEST 3-ring binder you can find.
- Display the most INNOCENT picture you can find of your little rugrat on the front, and have a bio of how amazing he is on the inside cover. Bring this with you to EVERY IEP meeting (make sure you hold the folder picture-side out–for all to see)
- MOST IMPORTANT: Organize your documents chronologically! I’ve tried creating categories for my son’s IEP folder, but I soon realized the categories are ENDLESS (IEP, ETR, Behavior, Communications, Resources, etc). Also, some of the documents could really be under more than one category (which category do you choose then?).
- My best advice, create a table of contents with the following: date, author, type, significance. Number each document and place them in order of date. Then you can quickly look back at your table of contents to find your child’s “1st grade ETR”.
Save all communications!
- Communication is EVERYTHING! Save it all: emails, letters home (see step 1), even text messages.
- The easiest way to save if you don’t have a physical copy and don’t want to print it out, is through email files. Most emails (I use Gmail) allow you to create folders.
- I have a folder for Troy in my email, and even have sub-folders (for behavior, IEP, and therapies).
- Any time I get an email I save it in the appropriate folder. I even email text messages to my email to save.
- This is especially important if, for instance, you keep getting an email about your child’s behavior. Keeping a paper trail (or in this case, an email trail) will be crucial for getting your child the help they need. Most schools require evidence of a continued problem before they’ll shell out money for say a formal behavior assessment.
Save all resources in LiveBinders!
- I learned about LiveBinders from a dear friend who is a professor of bicultural-bilingual studies (so you can use this for non-IEP topics too). If you love reading up on expert advice about Down syndrome, inclusion, special needs law, anything really…then you will be SIMPLY AMAZED by LiveBinder!
- It’s an online, find-it-whenever-and-wherever-you-need-it organizational masterpiece. My “binders” include: inclusion and law resources, letters to school, modifications to curriculum, literacy, APPs, Introducing Troy to classmates
- Whenever I find something spectacular on the Internet, I copy the URL and paste it into the appropriate “binder.” Then whenever I have an issue with a particular topic, I can go back to my binder and find resources.
- You can have up to 6 FREE binders before LiveBinder starts charging you. Check it out!
Let me know what you think of these 3 tips below. And tell us how you make your child’s IEP meeting run like a well-oiled machine!