Developing an Individualized Education Program (IEP) for your child is just the first step. After you establish a plan, you need to continuously monitor your child for signs of improvement. The school’s teachers and specialists will evaluate your child, and work to determine progress, but you also need to assess their development outside of this formal environment.
As a parent, you know your child’s personality, actions and development better than anyone else. Use this knowledge to ensure that your child’s IEP is meeting their needs and helping them learn in a meaningful way. How can you determine progress outside of the school environment?
Signs of improvement
- Communication. School develops your child’s social skills as well as their intellectual ability. Watch how your child interacts with you, their siblings, peers and other strangers. Evaluate their ability to communicate with others, and to express their needs in a socially appropriate way.
- Behavior. Watch your child’s behavior at home and in public. Watching how they handle very exciting and very frustrating situations will be the most telling of progress.
- Cognitive ability. A successful IEP should help your child improve their ability to think and process the world around them. Evaluate their ability to read, or to comprehend stories being read to them. Depending upon their skill level, see if they are having an easier time counting or completing basic math problems. Speed of completing tasks is another great metric to measure progress.
- Confidence. Along with progress comes confidence. As your child feels more comfortable with material at school, you should be able to see a change in their demeanor and a willingness to tackle new tasks at home.
What to do with your observations
- Record observations. Keep a weekly log of your observations. Write down successes and setbacks in your child’s development.
- Share observations. Share observations with your child’s school and their IEP team. Tell them about exciting victories, and any observations that make you nervous about their growth.
- Address problem areas. Mention any developmental areas in which your child continues to struggle. Figure out what the school can do to help them develop those skills.
- Ask questions. If you see problem areas, ask your child’s teacher if they have noticed a similar trend. Ask if they have any suggestions for helping to spark progress.
If you are worried that the school is not meeting your child’s needs, consider contacting an attorney who can advocate on their behalf during IEP meetings. Your child is entitled to certain services under California law. An attorney can ensure that the school is providing these services for your child, and helping them reach their full potential.