How to Prepare for Your Child’s IEP Meeting

An Individualized Education Plan (IEP) is a key component of your child’s special education plan. By law, schools are required to provide services to kids who qualify. An IEP meeting is where goals will be set and where provided services are decided on by both educators and the child’s family. While this can be intimidating for parents, with prior preparation and research, you will feel more informed and confident during the meeting. This time spent before will lead you to better advocate for your child and help develop a plan that will help them have more success in school. Get the ball rolling by reviewing these tips to help best prepare you for your child’s IEP meeting.

Talk to the Teacher

It is important to talk to your child’s teacher to determine how things are going at school. They can help identify your child’s strengths and challenges and may suggest what services would be helpful. If possible, observe your child in the classroom to get a feel for how social interactions and classroom learning are going. Become familiar with their benchmarks and grades to better help you assist the teacher in setting goals during the IEP meeting.

Read Up

When the school sends home an IEP meeting notice, it will state who will attend the meeting, the reason for meeting, and, if applicable, goals set in the previous meetings. Carefully read the information sent home so you understand what to expect. You may also consider studying special education laws that pertain to your child’s needs so you know what services might be good options. The more knowledge you have, the more confident and comfortable you will feel during the meeting.

Set Goals

Prior to the meeting, write down questions you would like to discuss. This is also a great time to consider what visions and goals you have for your child and make note of them. Bring your notes with you to the meeting so you can refer to them throughout the process. Having a list of questions and goals you would like to see your child reach, will help you make sure that you cover everything you had hoped by the end of the meeting. Don’t be afraid to ask for additional services for your child even if they weren’t covered at the beginning of the meeting. The school may not provide everything you had in mind, but it never hurts to ask.

Get Organized

Collect any paperwork you will need or would like to bring to the meeting and gather it in one place so it is neat and organized. Bring your notes from your observation, your list of questions and goals you would like to set, and any medical paperwork that pertains to the IEP meeting. If you have had any private evaluations done, bring copies of those as well.

Bring an Advocate

Because IEP meetings can be intimidating, it can be helpful to bring an advocate to the meeting with you. This could be a spouse, co-parent, or family friend. Having a person there both for support and to be another advocate for your child can be a good boost of confidence to help ensure you meet the goals you would like for your child. Be sure to let the school know in advance who will be attending the meeting with you.

Work Together

You know your child best and are the best person to represent their needs, challenges, and successes. While it can be emotional and overwhelming to address issues your child is facing at school, setting goals and ensuring the proper services are provided is the best thing you can do for your child.

Remember that your child’s teacher also wants what’s best for your child. You have home insights and they have school insights—work together to set your child up for success!

Meeting Prep Tips from Local Teachers

We asked local teachers on Instagram to submit their tips!

“Create and come with a list of questions you have for the teacher.” –@sandra_ym

“Let the teacher know if you have any ‘secret recipes’ you use at home with your child.” –@astynshea

“Before the meeting, note any concerns so you don’t forget to discuss them during the meeting.” –@mmeellc

Books to Help Prepare for Your Child’s IEP Meeting

Here are a few books to help you understand and prepare for your child’s IEP meeting.

The Art of Advocacy: A Parent’s Guide to a Collaborative IEP Process by Charmaine Thaner

Better IEP Meetings Everyone Wins by Cynthia M. Herr and Barbara D. Bateman

Wrightslaw: All About IEPs by Peter W. D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright

Wrightslaw: From Emotions to Advocacy: The Special Education Survival Guide by Peter W.D. Wright and Pamela Darr Wright

Your Special Education Rights: What Your School District Isn’t Telling You by Jennifer Laviano and Julia Swanson

The IEP from A to Z: How to Create Meaningful and Measurable Goals and Objectives by Diane Twachtman- Cullen and Jennifer Twachtman-Bassett