Supporting Your Child and their IEP in the New School Year: Engaging Them in the IEP Journey


Supporting Your Child and their IEP in the New School Year: Engaging Them in the IEP Journey

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As parents, we want the best for our children, especially when it comes to their education. If your child has an Individualized Education Program (IEP) or a 504 plan, it's essential to involve them in the process. By doing so, you can empower your child to advocate for themselves and ensure that their needs are met. In this blog post, we will explore four key areas of involvement: addressing the beginning of the school year and teacher expectations, teaching them about their accommodations, coaching them on how to kindly remind teachers about their accommodations, and what to do if their access to accommodations is denied.

1. Addressing the Beginning of the School Year and Teacher Expectations

At the start of the school year, it's crucial to establish open lines of communication with your child's teachers. Schedule a meeting to discuss your child's IEP or 504 plan, including their strengths, challenges, and any necessary accommodations. Ensure that teachers understand their roles and responsibilities in implementing the plan effectively. Encourage your child to attend this meeting, allowing them to introduce themselves and ask questions. By setting clear expectations from the beginning, with all 3 participants, you, your child, and the teacher, you can create a supportive scaffolding for your child's success.

2. Teaching Them About Their Accommodations

Educating your child about their accommodations is an essential step in their self-advocacy journey. Help them understand why these accommodations are necessary to support their learning and overall well-being. Explain each accommodation in simple terms, focusing on how it can positively impact their school experience. Encourage your child to ask questions and express any concerns they might have. Regularly reviewing or inquiring about their accommodations will help reinforce their understanding and ensure that they are being utilized effectively throughout the school year.

3. Coaching Them on How to Kindly Remind Teachers About Their Accommodations

It's natural for children to forget or feel uncomfortable reminding their teachers about their accommodations. Provide them with practical strategies on how to kindly and confidently communicate their needs. Role-play different situations, allowing your child to practice articulating their requests. Encourage them to write down reminders or create a discreet visual reminder, such as a small note or symbol in their notebook, to prompt them during class. By equipping your child with these tools, they will develop the confidence to advocate for themselves respectfully.

4. What to Do if They Are Not Given Access to the Accommodations in Their IEP or 504

In some unfortunate instances, teachers or school staff may fail to provide the necessary accommodations outlined in your child's IEP or 504 plan. If your child experiences this situation, it's essential to take prompt action. Start by reaching out to the teacher to discuss the matter, reminding them of the specific accommodations and their importance. If the issue persists, escalate your concerns to the principal or the school's administration. Document all interactions and communication related to the issue. If necessary, consult with an education advocate or seek legal advice to ensure that your child's rights are upheld.

Empowering your child to be an active participant in their IEP or 504 plan not only fosters their self-advocacy skills but also promotes their overall educational growth. By addressing the beginning of the school year, teaching them about their accommodations, coaching them on how to kindly remind teachers, and knowing what steps to take if accommodations are denied, you can set your child up for success in their educational journey.