Four Steps to Reduce Parents’ Stress With the IEP Process
If your child has recently been diagnosed as an exceptional pupil, then you’re in for the lengthy process of the development of their Individual Education Plan, otherwise known as an IEP.
As a parent, there’s a lot to understand what is involved in the process. Here are some steps to help make the process less stressful for you as a parent:
1. Make a friend in education – Develop a relationship with another member of the IEP team and/or reach out to Teachers to Go to help you learn about the process. Our teachers have direct experience with the IEP process and can explain your role as a parent.
2. You don’t have to go alone – There is a lot of new information presented during the IPRC meeting and it might be nice to bring someone along. Our TTG teachers’ first-hand knowledge of both your child’s abilities and the accommodation and/or modifications available through school will make them as asset at the meeting. They can also help you think of questions to ask and even act as a note taker during the meeting so you can focus on the discussion. Just make sure you tell the school beforehand that you’re bringing a guest.
3. Learn the lingo and educate yourself – There is a lot of terminology used in the IPRC process and it’s important to take your time to learn and understand it all. Take your time to absorb the information because it can be overwhelming. Here are a few terms to get you started:
Ontario Student Record (OSR): is the record of the student’s educational progress through schools in Ontario. It will include all of your child’s report cards, transcripts, and any other information seen as useful in the improvement of the instruction of your child.
Special Education Resource Teacher (SERT): is a specially trained teacher who assists in developing IEPs for each individual student. A large part of a SERT’s job is communicating and working with others involved in a child’s development, including parents, classroom teachers, psychologists, social workers. On a daily basis, the SERT collaborates with classroom teachers to support inclusion of exceptional students within the classroom.
Individual Education Plan (IEP): a written plan that describes the special education program and/or services needed by a student. It is based on assessments that show the student’s learning strengths and needs. It describes the student’s strengths and areas of need as well as the key accommodations and/or modifications to the program that will be implemented for them.
Accommodations: strategies that will help a student meet the provincial curriculum expectations of his/her grade-level.
• extra time given to complete assignments and/or tests
• use of amplification equipment
• preferential seating
• having instructions repeated or chunking of assignments
Modifications: changes to the curriculum so that a student will be given work at their ability level in a particular subject or course. The student works at a different grade level in the subjects that are chosen.
4. Be confident – The other members of the Identification Placement and Review Committee (IPRC) may be experts in education but no one knows your child better than you. Therefore, in order to ensure that your child gets the help they truly need, it’s crucial that you understand your role in this process. The knowledge you have about your child is invaluable. Remember to contact Teachers to Go today and inquire about our Special Education Advocacy Program.
Julie Diamond is a certified teacher in Canada and the founder of Teachers to Go.