by Renae Forchione M.Ed
Special Education Advocate and Trainer
Individualized Education Program (IEP) Team Communication
Communication with your child’s Individualized Education Program (IEP) team should NEVER be limited to just the annual review. Be proactive and establish effective methods of communicating with your child’s IEP team. Equally important, you should do this on a regular basis from the beginning of each school year or at your child’s annual review. As a parent, you are a member of the school team and as such should be active and thoroughly informed about your child’s education on an ongoing basis. Moreover, here are a few tips on how to promote effective communication with your child’s IEP team:
1. Communication Logs are a Must.
Establish a daily or weekly home and school communication log (via electronic student portal or paper). The communication log is a method for school team members to broadly share information about the learning activities your child participated in across the school day (including activities delivered by service providers). As a parent, you should participate in the development of the communication log so that it captures the information that is important to you.
2. Parent Meetings are Essential.
Set up regular parent meetings (monthly or quarterly depending child’s level of need) with your IEP team. Parent meetings can serve multiple functions but generally speaking can be a time for team members to share information about your child’s progress, discuss ways to promote the generalization of acquired skills in the home/community setting, share and review data, troubleshoot, and discuss changes in the home setting, to name a few.
3. Be Prepared.
Effectively communicating with your IEP team also means that you should prepare to participate in the discussion about your child’s progress and/or evaluations. This means you will need to formally request (in writing) that you receive any progress reports, evaluations, data, or related documents that will be reviewed at your child’s IEP meeting ahead of time. This is a critical request and one that you should make before each and every IEP meeting.
4. Formally Request Methods of Communication on IEP.
Always formally request that the IEP team include on the IEP any methods of communication at a meeting. Remember, if it is not on the IEP then it is likely not to happen. In fact, parents often make the mistake of not formally making these requests. Subsequently, they leave the meeting without a clear solution to the communication issue. It is important to clearly share the concern with the team with regards to communication but also propose a solution by making a formal request to include the solution (e.g., communication log, parent meeting, data review meeting, etc.) on the IEP.
5. Never Hesitate.
If you have a concern, question, or simply something to share with your school team about your child do not hesitate to contact them. In fact, it is critical to your child’s education that you establish an open line of communication. In my experience, some families have expressed frustration with establishing effective methods of communication with their IEP team. If this is your case, then do not hesitate to contact an advocate or education law attorney. Discuss with them how you can move forward with promoting effective communication methods with your child’s IEP team.