We’ve talked about parent input statements a LOT here, but guys it is SOOOO IMPORTANT. Let’s cut right to the chase, if you have your IEP in front of you the parent input statement will be in the first few pages. It may say something like parent input or parent vision. What does yours say?
Does it accurately reflect your input, your goals or concerns from your last meeting?
Is it blank or is it a brief overview of your comments from the meeting?
Here’s a secret… Mine was blank. I did not know this section was there! Instead my input was scattered throughout the notes and present levels making it difficult for a new teacher or educator to identify what my goals or concerns were for my kiddo.
Before we get into the details of what to include, let’s talk about why we need a parent input statement.
For years, I was concerned that my son’s choice of coping language when he was melting down would cause trouble when someone who didn’t know him heard him say those words. I brought it up at many meetings, it was briefly discussed, but never added to the IEP as something we need to work on. Then we got a new principle and a new assistant principle and the next thing I know is the police are being called on my first grader for language that the team had accepted as a coping skill for years prior to this. Was this their fault? Not necessarily, I think they did the best with what they knew how to do at the time. BUT had I included it in my parent input and pushed for this to be more of a priority, we probably could have avoided this scenario. Also, putting your goals and concerns in the parent input creates a paper trail in the event you need to go back and reference it. For example, should you ever need to file due process, a parent input statement could help support your case. Let’s log the importance of this tip in the file… things I wish someone had told me YEARS ago. But now you know!
This document should be sent to the team ahead of the meeting, typically by email, but you can also read the statement allowed at the meeting! Writing your thoughts down before the meeting will allow you to feel more confident and prepared. IEP meetings can be emotional, so having a written statement allows you to remain more in control of those emotions.
So what goes into the parent input?
This document does not have to be fancy schmancy. It should be less than a page, though I understand sometimes that isn’t doable. It can be bullet pointed and just highlights of what you need to say. You DO NOT need to use special education lingo, it helps get your point across for sure, but it is not necessary. It is not your job to speak special education, it is your job to be the expert on your child. You want to include mostly fact based statements. We want to highlight the really important things rather than write a novel. First, Parent input should include your goals, long term and short term and your concerns. Also, we need to be including tips for the team, especially if there is new information to share like with remote schooling. You have this unique opportunity to see how your child is learning. Do they need a quiet environment? Flexible seating? Frequent breaks? Repeated instructions? Visuals? Frequent reassurance or positive praise? You know them best and are getting to see how they learn best, so take a few sentences to outline what you know about your child. If you disagree with something, it is also important to state your disagreement in the IEP in a reasonable but fact-based way. You may also want to include strategies tried, behavior concerns, medical concerns, any area of need not identified and any data you have to support what you may be asking for.
Here’s the big part… DATA.
If you have dates and times of conversations that are important, include them. If you have dates and times of observations made at home, include it. When you are heading to an IEP table to ask for change, including hard numbers is ESSENTIAL to actually getting what you are asking for. For example, if you have a student who is delayed in reading and is unable to facilitate Elearning independently, how many redirections do they need in a time block? How many times are you helping them navigate the technology? How many minutes are they spending unable to participate in class? How long are assignments taking? ALL of this information will help you to facilitate progress at school. Again we want to be as fact based as possible, so we need to be including as many hard numbers as possible. When thinking about how the IEP team does observations or collect data, trying to replicate these types of methods at home are great ways of collecting data at home.
This is such a simple way to advocate for your child and it can create a huge impact. Again, it doesn’t have to be lengthy and fancy, a few sentences or bullet points will get your input across. Keep it fact based and use supporting data when available. Feel free to read it aloud at the meeting, straight from the page even. IEP meetings are emotional and it’s easy to forget what you want to say. Preparing the input ahead of time helps you feel confident and prepared.
Now I know so many of you are overwhelmed with writing the parent input, I get it. As a parent it can be hard to prioritize what is important right now when everything seems challenging. For families who work with me, I include parent letter righting as part of my 3 hour service package. You can use this package to have me attend meetings with you, review IEPs or other documents and help you write letters. This 3 hours is yours to determine how you want to use it throughout the school year. I NEVER discount this package, but it will be discounted for you until Friday when rates go back up! You can click the link in my bio to grab your package now or head on over to my website to read more. https://nicoleschlechter.com/product/product-2/
For those of you who only need a little support, I’m bundling the IEP assessment with the Parent Input Statement just until Friday. This includes a 30-minute consultation along with a full review of your child’s IEP and help writing your parent input statement. As always, I include the exact special education lingo you need to communicate what your child needs to make progress now. https://nicoleschlechter.com/product/iep-parent-bundle/