IEP Tips and Tricks


The individualized education program (“IEP”) is the single most important document when it comes to your child’s special education program. In fact, it’s so important that numerous court cases refer to it as the cornerstone of the Individuals with Disabilities in Education Act ("IDEA"). The following information includes some helpful tips in preparing for and attending the IEP meeting.


Tips for Preparing for the IEP


Come prepared! Familiarity with the IEP process and your rights is only the beginning step to get your child’s education on track. Preparation will help avoid “surprises” or feeling blindsided with new information. The more prepared you are, the better you can ensure that the IEP is individualized to meet your child’s unique needs.


Tips for Preparing for the IEP


Come prepared! Familiarity with the IEP process and your rights is only the beginning step to get your child's education on track. Preparation will help avoid “surprises” or feeling blindsided with new information. The more prepared you are, the better you can ensure that the IEP is individualized to meet your child’s unique needs.


In preparing for your child's IEP, consider the following:


  • Get all of your child's records together and take time to review them before the IEP meeting.

  • Talk to your child about his educational experience, progress, and needs.

  • Talk to your child's teachers about your child's educational experience, progress, and needs.

  • Review prior IEPs. Look for progress, or the lack thereof.

  • Prepare a list of your child's strengths and weaknesses.

  • Create goals you would like to see in your child's upcoming IEP.

  • Be prepared to show records that support your plan for your child's educational programming.

  • Provide at least 24 hours written notice of your intent to record the IEP meeting.


Tips for participation at the IEP


At the IEP, it's critical that you participate. Your input counts. The law empowers you to participate, to advocate, and to help make decisions about your child’s education.


Consider the following tips so you can actively participate during your child's IEP:


  • Share information with the IEP team about what is occurring at home relating to your child's learning.

  • Treat the IEP meeting as "collaborative" rather than "you against them."

  • Ask questions if you're having trouble understanding information.

  • Ask "why?" if you're unsure why a recommendation is being made.

  • Offer suggestions and ideas.

  • Bring someone you trust for help and support.

  • Make sure there's a written goal for each of your child's needs.

  • Make sure the goals are specific, measurable, and understandable.

  • Make sure that services are provided to address each goal.

  • You don’t need to sign the IEP at the meeting. You can take the IEP home and think about it.

  • You can consent to all or only part(s) of the IEP.

  • You have the legal right to record the IEP meeting. Use this right!


Finally, stay positive. A few tips can go a long way, but a successful IEP meeting comes down to attitude. A positive perspective places the emphasis on your child. Have faith in the process. It’s common to feel nervous, especially if the experience is new to you. But remember, the law empowers you to participate. Because the process is so personal, it’s also common to feel like you’re the only one advocating for your child’s needs. So bring along a trusted friend, neighbor, advocate or family member. Don’t go at it alone!