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What to do about school this year when your kid has an IEP



If your child has an IEP, you likely already know this coming school year will be hard on them.  It is going to be a hard year on all kids, but children with IEPs struggle more in school- and most will struggle more with virtual school.  What can you do now, to prepare for this year?


1. Look over your kid’s IEP.  Identify what services were provided last school year remotely and decide if the services provided were sufficient to meet your kid’s needs.  If they were sufficient, great!  


If they were not sufficient to help your kid meet their goals, think about how those services could be modified.  Does your kid need a virtual small group for reading?  Do they need one-on-one instruction for some or all of their classes?  If your kid struggles with behavior, would a one on one meeting with their special education teacher help? 


If certain services were not provided at all last year, reach out to the district.  Your child may be entitled to compensatory services to make up for that lack.  This could take the form of tutoring for academics or small groups for social skills or extra speech and occupational therapy this year.  Please ask what the school can do for your kid.  


2. Look at the structure of virtual learning.  Do video meetings help your kid learn?  If not, you may want to call an IEP meeting and have a conversation with the team at school about how this can be navigated. If video calls are overwhelming for your student, ask if your child can only be in smaller group calls or can only join for part of the call.  Can your child get tutoring instead of attending a large group class?  Ask for what might help. 


Realistically, some services can’t be provided via video.  Schools need to make a plan for kids who need services that can’t be done via video.  Right now, I don’t know how schools can meet this need.  Maybe they can contract with different organizations, maybe there is space for some face to face education for certain kids.  But pressure needs to be on districts to think about this and make a plan.  IEPs are legal contracts; districts must find a way to serve kids who have them. Pressure from parents will help remind them of the need to do this. 


3. Think about how you can help your child at home.  What setup would help your child learn best?  Do they do their best work with you or alone?  Do they like timing themselves?  Does having a reward chart help motivate them?  Ask your kid as well- what would help them learn?  Kids know what helps them.  If you need specific equipment to help your kid learn, consider asking the school to provide it.  Schools may have equipment you can borrow.  


4. Think about your own capacity as a parent.  You aren’t a teacher and that is OK.  You cannot be expected to teach your child all they need to know.  Be thoughtful about where you need help and ask for that help, so you can help your kid. Have reasonable expectations for yourself.  


5. Know that this year may be hard.  It is OK if your kid isn’t learning as much as they would have learned in school.  I am hoping, mostly, that my clients with IEPs learn something, don’t regress, and that their families are happy and healthy.  This is not going to be an easy year.  Right now, you need to advocate for your kid, while also having realistic expectations of the school, your child and yourself. 


Written by: Katie Jo Glaves, CMHS, LMFT

You can contact Katie Jo here

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