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Kids in Preschool

Preschool

Obtaining an IEP for your Preschooler

This age can be tough to navigate for parents. Your child has wrapped up their time with the First Steps program, but it is still too soon to start Kindergarten. What do you do with the next one to two years that will maintain the progress your child has made, while preparing them for that next step of Kindergarten? 

There are a few things to keep in mind that will help you in the planning process. First, if you suspect your child may need an Individualized Education Program (IEP) it is important to start that process early as it takes at least 60 days to complete the process. Next, if you’re new to IEP planning, it is helpful to know it is a three year process that includes referral, evaluation, and eligibility. So how does this look over a three year time frame?

 

Year 1:

  • Draft IEP 

  • Implement IEP

 

Year 2:

  • Update present level/goals/benchmarks

  • Implement IEP

  • Consent for Re-evaluation

 

Year 3:

  • Re-evaluation

This cycle continues for the remainder of your child’s education and it is important you maintain “meaningful participation” at every stage to ensure your child continues to receive the support they need.

 

Next Steps:

If your child is already receiving services, it will be important for you to begin the process of the preschool transition within 30 days of your child turning three years of age. This process is important because parents will need to evaluate what services their child needs and compare that to the services available at preferred schools. 

 

A few important questions to ask during this process include:

  • What schools will have this program available in the upcoming school year

  • Which of these schools have openings for my child

  • Is bussing available from an approved location (parent, guardian, grandparent, aunt, daycare, etc.)

 

If your child is already in school, but you suspect there may be challenges in the classroom, request an evaluation in writing. This request can be sent by email or letter to the child’s teacher and school counselor. Once this request for evaluation has been received, there is a 60 day (school days) window to complete the evaluation process and determine eligibility.

 

Tip #1: When nearing the end of the evaluation period, request a copy of the evaluation. This gives you the opportunity to review the findings and discuss it with any current therapists who may be working with your child. The receipt of this evaluation and the review of the IEP Plan should NOT happen in the same meeting. 

 

Tip #2: Request the proposed IEP Plan prior to the meeting date. This allows you time to review the plan, discuss it with therapists as needed, and be ready to make any changes you feel are necessary. 

 

Planning for a Successful Meeting:

Meeting success is crucial when discussing your child’s IEP path. Whether this is a transition meeting from existing services, or you are evaluating the need for an IEP for the very first time, it is important to recognize you are your child’s biggest advocate. Here are a few things to think about: 

Before the meeting:

  • Know your child’s environment – Remember you are your child’s biggest advocate. In order to know what your child needs in the classroom, you must first observe the way your child, teacher, and classmates interact within that environment. If this isn’t an option, you will still be able to provide the team valuable insights based on your own observations of your child in various settings.

  • Know your concerns – Based on your observations, make a list of your concerns; what is going well and what needs some work.

  • Know your expectations – Before you can request certain goals be met with an IEP, you must first know what the expectations are for your child at this stage of their education. What are the areas where certain milestones are not being met? What are the areas where they seem to excel? Where do they seem to be struggling? What techniques have been implemented that have been successful? Where do you feel an IEP can help?

 

During the meeting

  • Know your goals – When you go into the meeting, it’s hard to know what the outcome will be, but it’s important to have some mental goals that you want to achieve. 

  • Identifying the primary teacher, counselor, and therapists assigned to your student

  • Ask questions about the path they are recommending. How is your child’s performance being measured? Is their eligibility category correct?

  • Determine next steps. What is the timeframe for IEP Plan draft review? Once approved, how quickly will these steps be put in place? What is the timeframe and rubric for measuring success?

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