Parent participation in the special education process is very important. The most important thing parents can do is ensure they are involved with and take an active role as a member of the Individual Education Program (IEP) team. This team determines a student’s path, so a parent should be leading the way. The IEP team is charged with making educational decisions for students, and addresses issues such as eligibility, evaluation, program development, and placement of a child in special education or gifted programs.
Promise Neighborhood and Cleveland Transformation Alliance are working together to make sure families know just how important parent involvement is to a student’s success in school. There are more than 300 students in Central’s Cleveland Metropolitan School District’s schools on IEPs. The IEP process can be intimidating and frustrating at times but don’t let that deter you from being as involved as you possibly can.
Here are the top three reasons, from verywell.com, why parents are the most valuable player on the special education team:
1. Parents may underestimate their importance to the IEP team
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the IEP team process. They may believe team members perceive them as less knowledgeable about teaching or as obstacles to the decision-making process, especially if they disagree with the educators. Parents and other guardians should not let school personnel intimidate them in this process, because their role as student advocate is paramount.
2. Parents provide critical input
Parents and guardians know their children better than anyone else, and have the most complete understanding of a child’s physical, social, developmental, and family history. Parents are the only adults in the educational process who have been and will continue to be deeply involved throughout the child’s school career.
3. Parents are the best advocates for their child
There is no one as interested in and motivated to see a child succeed and thrive than her own parents, and this alone places the parent in a crucial role on the IEP team.
How can you advocate for your child?
- Learn as much as you can about their learning differences.
- Observe your child’s learning styles. Despite the specialized tests which attempt to discern how children learn best, parents are in the best position to watch this in action every single day.
- Keep careful records of your child’s education, including any testing and any IEP reports. Find a way to file these carefully so that you have them on hand readily if needed.
- Correspond with teachers and other professionals in writing whenever possible, and hang on to these communications. Hopefully you will not need to refer back to any of these records, but if the need arises, you will have them.
Read more reasons from verywell.com why parents need to be involved it the IEP process here.