During most discussions about IEPs, we talk about the times that things went wrong and disgraceful things were said. But not all IEPs are like that! Recently a commenter on the Friendship Circle blog wrote, “Instead of ridiculous and offensive comments, why don’t you write about helpful and compassionate things heard at an IEP meeting?”
After a few rough years and three different school districts, I have developed a good working relationship with my son’s IEP team. My son does not receive 100% of the services that I request for him, but he is receiving an excellent education and is fully included in general education for most of the school day.
Over the years, many helpful and compassionate comments have stuck with me. Here is a sample of supportive comments that have been spoken to me as a parent, but I should note that I also make it a point to express my appreciation to the team as well. IEP support isn’t just a 2-way street: it’s a busy construction site with administrators, educators, parents and the student all interacting and choosing to build the future together.
1. “Your child has so many strengths – what would you like to add to the list?”
This question comes at the beginning of the IEP and really sets the tone for the whole meeting.
2. “This IEP is designed to consider the needs of the whole child, and we value your input at every step.”
I heard this comment right after I moved out of a negative situation in another school district, and I was relieved to be treated with respect as a valued team member. This comment should be made at every IEP.
3. “How can we make the transition between school and home as smooth as possible for your child?”
This question is rare, and if you hear it, you will know that you have an excellent team!
4. “Can you share one of the strategies that works well for you at home?”
When presented in a respectful manner, this question demonstrates the team’s confidence in the student’s family.
5. “Even though your child was found not to be eligible for this service, we know that you wanted additional information about it, so we prepared this packet for you.”
My son’s team often sends home packets to help me research methods to help my son and to review academic material during school vacations.
6. “Parent training is an important component of the IEP process, so we prepared this list of resources for you.”
Some parents are insulted at the suggestion of parent training and support groups, but I was happy to receive the information and choose what worked for me.
7. “Can you suggest a better way to word this goal?”
The IEP is a team effort and goals should not be pre-written. Goals should be written with input from all parties.
8. “Your child comes to school ready to learn every morning.”
I smiled when my son’s 5th grade teacher said this, because of my son’s happy, eager-to-please personality. The teacher understood that preparing my son for school took effort on my end, and that preparation was an important part of our partnership.
9. “The Behavior Support Plan has been working well because it’s being reinforced at home.”
This comment helps to keep the tone positive and share responsibility for small successes.
10. “We’re so glad to work with you as part of a team. We appreciate having the home perspective.”
This is a great way to end any meeting, not just an IEP meeting!