Individualized Education Program meetings can be uncomfortable, especially the first one, for both the parents and the educational professionals involved. However, this uncomfortable feeling can be avoided by following the best practices for optimizing these meetings. The following tips can help both parents and educational professionals be better prepared for these meetings and reach their ultimate goal, which is enhancing the child’s educational achievement.
1. Positive Atmosphere
IEP meetings can be very emotional for parents and although this meeting is meant to help their child, they may have a hard time accepting the situation. It’s very important to create a warm, welcoming atmosphere that promotes the feeling of a team approach. You want the parents to feel like they are involved in the decision-making process and not just there to listen to what you have to say.
2. Be Prepared
It’s important to reach out to the parents beforehand with a phone call to make sure you are sharing essential information, whether good or bad, with them prior to the meeting. This will help them better prepare for the meeting and be able to be more involved in the process. Some parents appreciate receiving a copy of the present level of academic achievement and functional performance (PLAAFP) prior to the meeting in order to be better prepared to participate.
3. Remember the Real Reason for this Meeting
As important as the actual IEP document is, make sure you don’t get so caught up in the script that you forget to allow ample time to hear parent/student input, concerns, and comments. The student is at the heart of the IEP process and it’s important to make sure it feels that way.
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