Back to school can be an exciting time for many students as they look forward to seeing their friends and learning many new things. For children with disabilities, back to school can be a stressful time. Some students with disabilities have an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) which helps them get the accommodations that they need to succeed in school. I have been out of school for 2 years now but I wanted to provide 5 tips for going back to school with an IEP.
- Meet the teachers before the school year starts. I always tried to meet my teachers beforehand and explain to them what I needed and how they could help me succeed in their class.
- Meet with your advisor, teachers and anyone else involved before or shortly after school starts. When I was in high school and middle school, my parents had me attend my meetings so I could understand what was going on. It was awesome to get everyone in the same room so that we were able to be on same page at the start of the school year.
- Make sure your aide understands your IEP. Make sure that your aide is on board if you have one. They can be helpful in talking to the teacher and others about what you need.
- Don’t be afraid to make changes. As you improve or need to add to your IEP throughout the year don’t be hesitate to do so. These changes can show the progress you have made or still need to make during the year.
- Ask Questions. If you don’t understand, ask questions. If you are unsure of what something means on IEP, ask! As the parent, you know your child the best and sometimes you can get lost in the educational goals written into the plan.
- Bonus: Advocate for your child. If something is not correct in the IEP speak up. You are the voice for your child especially if they cannot speak. Fight for your child and the right for them to have the best education possible.
On that note, I have had a few IEP’s in my lifetime so for any parents that are reading this out there, if you have any questions about an IEP or other things related to your child’s education, I would be more than happy to talk with you.
Here’s to a great school year with an IEP in hand!
Jessica Ebersole is a twenty-something who lives in Chicago and explores life through the eyes of someone with a disability. Jessica has cerebral palsy but she does not let that stop her. She spends her days at a children’s museum and enjoys serving the community in various ways. She loves spending time with family, connecting with friends and photography.