Navigating Your Child’s Needs and IEP

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As a former teacher and a parent of a twice-exceptional child with an IEP and an ALP, I have always had to be an advocate for my child.  I learned during the pandemic that navigating an IEP in a virtual environment required even more!

Adie Tate is a Possip Team Member, former teacher and mom to Henry, 11 and Owen, 8. This post was originally published in November 2020 in response to at-home virtual learning during the COVID-19 pandemic. We have updated the content and provided additional ideas.

As I navigated the new waters, I found a few strategies that help me be a better advocate during in person or virtual learning. Every situation is unique, but as a SpEd parent, here is what I have found to be helpful in advocating for my child.

For background, here is a high-level reflection on fulfilling the promise of the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). 

1. Know your child’s IEP or ALP

You likely already know your child’s IEP well. Understand what accommodations are listed and why they are there to support your child’s learning. Knowing my child’s IEP or ALP helps me prepare before I meet with providers and teachers.  I make a list of things that need to stay the same. I also make a list of things that need to be modified given our current situation.

2. Ask for accommodations that are not in the IEP if they make sense for your current environment

You can ask for what your student needs.  These accommodations can be written in later if needed.  There is no reason for your student not to have what they need because something is not on paper yet.

3. Read and respond to emails with extra grace

Tone and intent can be hard to come across in emails. When teachers and parents are not able to do quick “check-ins” in person or via phone, email is more widely used. Giving grace will go far. If you have specific feedback you’d like to share, consider using a template like the example in this article, “How to Write An Email With Feedback to a Teacher“.

4. Communication smooths many bumps

Over-communicate anything you are doing at home to support your child.  Communicate with providers on a regular basis, especially if you feel like something is not going well. Here are 6 Ways Parents Can Support Strong Teacher Communication and build a strong relationship at any point in the year.

You may even want to put a reminder in your calendar to send your child’s teachers and providers a weekly update.  Or let them know you’ll be using Possip to provide your routine updates.

And pat yourself on the back!  Your child, your child’s teachers and providers, and your community thanks you for all you are doing to make your children successful.