Future Driven IEPs

Envision Your Child’s Future
to Drive Your Child’s IEP

“When I look at you and you look at me, I wonder what wonderful things you will be.” 

-Emily Winfield Martin from her book The Wonderful Things You Will Be

We read this book last night before bed. This quote stops me in my tracks every time. I spend the rest of the book daydreaming about what my three precious girls will become. 

Did you know every time you sit down at the IEP table, you and the other IEP team members are wondering this: What wonderful things will your child do? Who will they grow up to be? Who do they want to grow up to be? And how are we going to help them become that wonderful person? 

Special education is pretty cool because it puts real steps in place to bring these wonderful things to fruition. However, to put these steps into action, the topic of the future must be discussed at IEP meetings and then written into the IEP. The main objective of an IEP is to prepare your child for FURTHER education, employment, and independent living. Below are the three parts of the IEP that can ensure the IEP is preparing your child for the future. 

Parent Input Statements

The parent input statement, sometimes titled “Parent Concerns” or something to that effect, is the area of the IEP used to address the future from the parent’s perspective. This is an area that is often overlooked in the IEP with a short sentence about a parent’s concerns, or it becomes the “parent’s complaints” section. However, the parent input statement should be the driving force behind the whole IEP, and would be better named “parent vision.” The input statement should highlight what your goals are for your child–-their education, employment, and independence. Writing this statement, a concise paragraph, before the IEP meeting and submitting it to the IEP team will ensure your thoughts are addressed and keep the team focused on the most important needs of your child. Consider addressing academics, social skills, and life skills/independence. Remember to send your thoughts to the IEP team, so there are no surprises, and the team will know what areas you would like to discuss. 

IEP Goals

As a teacher, I never had a parent provide insight for IEP goals. However, parental input throughout the IEP is valued. When looking at the IEP goals, consider if each goal is helping achieve the goals you outlined in the parent input statement. Request a draft IEP before the meeting to give yourself a chance to consider if the current IEP goals support your future vision.

Transitioning

As your child moves through school years, and teachers, expectations, and peers change, it is critical that you, the parent, become the voice of your child’s IEP. You are the most consistent and influential member of the IEP team–every time. All the other roles will change and change frequently. Sharing your vision for your child’s future will create clarity and help in forming a clear path for your child’s education. Above all else, communicate with your child’s IEP team, and do not be afraid to share your insight! It is valued. You are the driving voice of your child’s education. Consider what wonderful things you envision them becoming so that your child’s IEP truly reflects preparedness for future education, employment, and independent living.

Adapted from a forthcoming blog by Jessica about IEPs for children of military members on Partners in Promise titled, Using Your Vision of the Future to Drive Your Child’s IEP

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Jessica is a military spouse and mommy to a few little ones. This phase of life has her at home with her children and bopping around the country/world for her husband's career. Although not in the classroom, special education continues to hold a special place in her heart. She's eager to work with families to become the greatest advocate for their children through collaborative relationships with the IEP team. She knows, as a parent, that days can be tough especially if you are struggling with behaviors at home. Jessica is available virtually or in person (location dependent) to work with you, to provide resources and strategies that align with data from your child's IEP to create better days at home and school!

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