Q | What are some strategies to involve parents in making their child’s IEP a success?
A | First, ensure that parents are clear on dates for meetings and have transportation and child care arranged; language barriers should be addressed with an interpreter. If there are concerns about the parents’ level of understanding that are not language-related, encourage them to seek support from an advocate—a clergy member, legal adviser, etc.
During individual education plan meetings, encourage parents to ask questions at any point and stop frequently to ask if they understand the proceedings. Make sure to define all acronyms and educational terms, and confirm that parents understand your definitions.
When developing goals, be specific, identifying observable and measurable objectives. Goals should be clear enough that everyone in the room can agree when each has been met. Speak with parents about how they can reinforce school goals at home, and give examples of activities.
Finally, make a plan to ensure that parents receive progress reports in a timely way. Parents should be asked to confirm receipt of the summaries and should know whom to contact with any questions. Remind them that they can convene a meeting at any point to discuss progress or changes to the IEP. Although some of these steps can add to an already time-consuming process, parental involvement and investment can significantly improve the effectiveness of the plan.