If your child has an individual education plan, more commonly known as an IEP, it is up to you to fight for your child's rights and to make sure that their school is following their IEP. Here are three tips for advocating for your child.
#1 Read & Understand Your Child's IEP
The first thing that you need to do in order to be a strong advocate for your child is sit down and actually read your child's IEP. Read it a few times so that you are familiar with all of the different provisions and adjustments that are supposed to be in place for your child.
Then, go back and use sticky notes to make comments about things that you think should be added to your child's IEP, areas that need more clarification, or things that need to be changed based on your child's changing needs.
Making these notes in private when you have time to really review your child's IEP will help you guide the discussion when you meet with school officials to review your child's IEP. When in a meeting with school officials, it can be easy to forget the points that you wanted to discuss; having these notes will help you.
Additionally, really knowing your child's IEP will help guide discussions with your child's teachers and will help you make sure outside of the official IEP meeting that all accommodations are being made to move your child forward with their learning goals.
#2 Discuss Your Child's IEP With Them
Second, you should take the time to sit down and discuss your child's IEP with them. Even if your child is in elementary school, they should still be informed about their IEP. Let your child know what their learning goals are, and discuss with your child on a regular basis about how what they are doing in school and how they are moving towards their goals. Your child should also be aware of the services and accommodations that are available to them. This will help your child be an advocate for themselves and help them speak up when they are not getting the assistance that they deserve.
#3 Plan Meetings With Your Child's Teachers
Your IEP meeting should not be the first time that you meet your child's support team, unless they are just starting at a new school. Make appointments so that you can conference with your child's teacher and any support staff who work with your child. Let them know that you want to work together on your child's goals and make sure that they are aware of the details of your child's IEP plan.
Finally, if you encounter any resistance from the school in implementing your child's IEP plan, bring a special education lawyer to your next school meeting so they can help advocate for your child and remind the school of its legal responsibilities to your child.