As a mother of kids with various educational needs, I’ve sat through many team meetings. I hope some of my experience can help you navigate the process.
Having paperwork BEFORE the meeting streamlines the entire process. Nothing like sitting in silence while other people watch you read. Having a draft copy before the day gives you an opportunity to read every word carefully, without feeling rushed during the meeting to skim or skip.
Reading before also allows you to formulate questions ahead of time, sometimes even answered outside the meeting. I’ve found making a phone call before very helpful outside the constraints of the meeting time.
Read Every Word
Everyone signing should walk away feeling confident in every word in the report. Ask any questions you need to understand the full content without hesitation. Slow down if it goes too fast or ask any clarifying questions if there are acronyms or other unfamiliar terms.
Ask for Reports from Specials
This took me years in the making but has made big changes for us. Asking for a small summary from any adult spending time with my child during the day was a game-changer when creating a plan. I now understand specific struggles my child has in different situations throughout the building.
For us, it comprised of PE, Music, Art, Reading Group, Library and Lunch. Sometimes this was an email generated by me; other times initiated by the school counselor. This more complete picture of my child’s day has been instrumental in making an all-around more successful plan.
Ask for the parent advocate to be present for your meeting. My team consisting of this person has always been a better experience. I’ve called my parent advocate in between meetings to ask if this/that was worth bringing up or to talk me down. I’ve had my parent advocate support my stance in meetings where friction was present. I cannot exclaim how great it has been to have a parent advocate as part of my IEP/504 team. Ask for this person to be there.
Navigating special education needs can feel cumbersome. I hope these tidbits empower you to feel better equipped for a successful journey.