Military Special Needs Network

Proudly Supporting all Military Families with a Special Needs Dependent

Back to School IEP Advice

As we enter August, many of our readers are bracing for IEP season, as well as the challenges of sending our children back to school. Throughout this month, MSNN will share valuable tips and information to help you succeed in achieving the IEP your child deserves! Visit our Facebook page to see IEP/B-to-S status updates and links, inforgraphics and more.



452227965As we all start to think about “Back to School” there are many thoughts that go into this. It is both an exciting and anxious time for all. With that in mind, when you have a child who has special needs all of these emotions can be intensified. Not only are you faced with dealing with the “normal” back to school things like getting back into school routine, riding the bus, making lunches, etc. but when you have a student who is receiving Individual Educational services (or has an IEP) there are many other things to think about as well. Some of these might include not only a new teacher, but new service providers (i.e.- SLP’s, OT’s, music therapists, physical therapists,). Wondering if modifications and accommodations written into the IEP are in place and how your child will adapt to another year as they continue to grow. Below is a checklist to help remind you about the IEP process and what you should expect:

  • IEP goal and objective updates
    • Depending on what is written in the IEP, these can be quarterly, by trimesters, or however you decided as an IEP team.
  • Have an idea of when your child’s annual IEP meeting is held. Start to think about goal areas that you think are important for them to work on.
  • Be realistic about goals—there are only so many hours in a school day. Make certain goal areas a priority to be written into the IEP.
  • If you are unsure about when the services are being provided, ask—typically there is a master classroom schedule that should have all of this information on it.
  • Get your child involved in the IEP process. This is important especially as they get older. Ask them what types of things they would like to work on.
    • Student-led IEP meetings are amazing to get to be a part of!!!
  • Communicate with your student’s teachers. The more you communicate as a team, the more information you all have about your student and are able to better serve him/her.
  • Do your best to work on IEP goals at home as well. Skills are best generalized when they are worked on across all environments.
    • If you are unsure, ask the teacher for materials and/or ideas about how to work on a skill(s) at home.
  • Ask for proposed goals and objectives to be sent home in advance. This will give you time to review them before the meeting, rather than at the meeting.
    • Discuss goal areas you think are important for your student to work on prior to this so that you are all on the same page
  • If you have recently moved, ask teachers from previous schools for updated progress reports so that new teachers have an idea of where your student was in their goal areas.

With this special time of year, remember to enjoy all that goes into it! While this is such a busy time for so many, hopefully these few tips will help you through some of what makes life so crazy!

OliviaOlivia Newbold is a special education teacher in Carlsbad, California. Olivia has been a special education teacher for nine years for students who have mild, moderate and severe disabilities including students who are on the Autism Spectrum. Olivia has dedicated her life to helping individuals with disabilities. She has been involved in many activities throughout her life to help the special needs community including coaching Special Olympics, various volunteer activities, developing and maintaining peer programs within the schools she has worked in and more. Olivia has most recently become involved in serving on the Board of Directors for the Autism Society of San Diego, serving as the Military Outreach Chairperson. Within this role she has created a resources blog and develops materials to help families who are dealing with military life and having a child with disabilities. Olivia is passionate about making a positive difference in the lives of these families. Olivia was raised in central Illinois. She attended Illinois State University for her undergraduate and part of her graduate studies and credits them for the amazing training they provided her with to excel in her role as Special Educator. Olivia relocated to the San Diego area in 2012 when her fiancé was stationed at Camp Pendleton with the United States Marine Corps. Together they live with their two beloved Boston Terriers – Winton & Frankie. Olivia continues to strive diligently in making a positive impact in the lives of children and families who have disabilities. You can view the resources blog and/or reach her at 

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