Whether it is an IEP meeting, a 504 meeting or just a meeting about general behavioral, social, and academic concerns, a meeting with school personnel can be stressful for parents. As a former school psychologist, I believe that effective communication between school and home is vital in order to have a successful student.
When I was a school psychologist, I led countless school meetings advocating for both the students, parents and teachers. As a psychologist currently in private practice, I have participated in numerous school meetings advocating for my patients and their families. And as a parent, I have joined in these meetings advocating for my own children. I have found that effective communication, organization and preparedness are essential ingredients to positive outcomes.
Here are six tips to help make your school meeting both productive and successful:
- Be prepared. Make sure that you understand the reason for the meeting prior to your arrival. Ask questions on the phone beforehand and make yourself a written list of questions to ask at the meeting.
- Find out who will be attending the meeting. If there is someone specific that you would like to be present at the meeting, make sure that you ask for that person in advance.
- Do not be afraid to ask questions. Refer to the list of questions that you brought with you and make sure to ask follow up questions if you need clarification.
- Take notes. The meeting may be stressful and you may not remember what was said. Referring to your notes after the meeting will be extremely helpful.
- Listen to what the school has to say and then respond. It helps to start with an open mind. The school personnel see your child in a very different setting than you do and hearing a different perspective is important.
- Ask for a follow-up meeting if necessary. If the meeting ends before all the issues have been addressed, make sure you ask for a follow-up meeting so that all your questions can be answered. You also can request a meeting at a later date to assess progress.
Knowing that you have to go to your child’s school may make you feel nervous and intimidated. Hopefully, these tips will help you feel prepared and confident. If you are still feeling uncomfortable, you can always ask a knowledgeable, experienced person to accompany you to the meeting.