Skip to main content

The school says my child needs an Individual Education Plan (IEP). What now?

An Individual Education Plan (IEP) says what the school will do to help meet your child’s needs and succeed at school.

It explains in writing the services, accommodations or modifications that your child will receive. If your child is going to receive additional services or accommodations due to a learning challenge, they must have an IEP.

The development of an IEP is a team effort, and you are part of that team. It is meant to be a joint effort between the school and the parents (and student, if appropriate). The BC School Act states by law that parents and guardians must have the opportunity to take part in developing the IEP. The school staff will usually schedule an IEP meeting.

You play a key role in the IEP process. You know your child best and your input into setting goals is important. You can talk about what goals are most important to you and to your child and explain your concerns. You can share information about your child’s interests, likes and dislikes, and learning styles.

You can speak to us at the Kelty Centre to discuss ideas about how to prepare and what to expect.

IEP Meetings:

  • Don’t be shy about speaking up, even if there are many people at the meeting. Share as much information as you are comfortable sharing.

Read More

  • It is easy to forget things once a meeting gets started. Make notes before the meeting and have a list of things that you feel are important. Write down the questions, or concerns you would like to discuss. Be specific. For example, if getting to school is difficult, explain what that looks like, sounds like and feels like for you and your child.
  • Bring all of your child’s records and evaluations, for example, a formal assessment from a psychologist or other professional if you have it.
  • You can bring another person to the meeting with you - your partner, a co-parent, a friend, even a professional that works with your child. Anyone that can support you and knows your child well can be a great addition to the meeting. It can be helpful to have another adult with you to listen to the information being presented and take notes. After the meeting, that person can help you remember and understand all of the information.
  • If your school provides you an IEP that was written without you, thank them, but ask to set up a meeting to go over it together once you’ve had a chance to review and provide your input. You do not have to sign the first IEP draft they give you.
  • If you know of other parents who have children with IEPs, chat with them about their experience at your school. It can help to know what to expect.
Read Less

Setting Goals & Strategies:

  • There is a wide range of what goes in an IEP. Most IEPs are broken down into sections with goals for different areas. For example:
    • academic goals
    • social goals (recess, lunch, playground goals, etc.)
    • wellness goals (ways to calm down when frustrated, taking regular food and water breaks, having body movement breaks, etc.)

Read More

  • Focus on a few goals at a time. As your child has success and makes progress in their learning, some goals can come off the IEP and new goals can go on.
  • There should be a few different strategies for each goal that are specific and measurable. Offer suggestions of things you think will help your child reach the goal. Please speak up if something doesn’t seem like it will work. And remember this is a team effort, so there is some give and take. If a teacher suggests something that you don’t think will work, but they are really committed to the idea, try and see it from their point of view. Listen to their reasons. Remember, your child’s teacher is with them for most of their day, and how your child responds at home and at school can be very different.
  • If you and your child are working on goals with another professional (occupational therapist, behaviour consultant, etc.), bring a copy of those goals along to the meeting. It is helpful for goals at school and home to support each other and line up whenever possible.
  • It’s ok to suggest things even if you don’t think the school will approve (for example: leaving school an hour early every day because the last hour is the most challenging, or arriving 15 mins after the bell in the morning because the noise and busyness of the morning triggers your child). You may be surprised by the solutions that come up when you start the conversation.
  • There needs to be a plan in place for when things don’t go well. Talk about what to do if a goal isn’t being met and the strategies aren’t working. This is an important part of an IEP. It could range from having your child take some calming breaths to making a phone call to pick up your child. Offer specific ideas on how your child calms down the best. Maybe they have a cuddly or comfort item that can be kept in a backpack or a special spot to go if needed.
Read Less

Staying in Communication & Tracking Success:

  • You may ask to have your child’s IEP reviewed or changed at any time. IEPs are usually developed early in the year (October) and reviewed near the end (May). A meeting must be scheduled at least once a year with you to review your child’s progress. But you don’t have to wait for this annual review.

Read More

  • It’s important to stay in communication with the teacher
    • to see that changes are being put into place
    • to understand your child’s progress and challenges in reaching goals
    • to adapt the plan as needed

At the beginning, make a plan about how to communicate. It can be helpful to arrange a meeting(s) or set up a way to share information (by email, child’s planner book). Talk to the teacher about what they prefer. 

  • Ask questions if there is something that you don’t understand about the IEP. If there is something that you think should be changed, added or removed, discuss it with your child’s teacher.
  • It is important for everyone to understand their roles. Once a goal is set and put in the IEP, it is important to note who is responsible for supporting that goal and tracking its success. Some may be for the teacher, but some may be the responsibility of the parent, teacher or support staff.
  • If you feel your child is not getting the support they need, talk to the school, or reach out to the Learning Disabilities Association of BC (LDABC) to find out what your options are.
Read Less

Featured Resources:

Individual Education Plans: A Guide for Parents (BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils)
Speaking Up: A parent guide to advocating for students in public schools (BC Confederation of Parent Advisory Councils)
Special Education Policy Manual (BC Ministry of Education)

Inclusion BC: A Parent's Handbook on Inclusive Education (6th ed.)




Was this information helpful?

Is this helpful?
Where You Are Podcast

Through real stories, expertise, and practical tips, this podcast helps families promote their mental health and wellness, navigating important topics to meet you where you are in your journey.