When my son was in 3rd grade, I was buried in paperwork. While I credit myself for being an involved parent, I was having a hard time keeping up with it all.
If I had a question about my son’s Individualized Education Plan (IEP), I had to dig through piles of paper. When his Admission, Review and Dismissal (ARD) meeting time rolled around, I wasn’t well prepared. One day my friend suggested I create an IEP binder. It changed my life!
An IEP binder is a great way to stay organized and prepare for my child’s ARD meeting. It helps me easily find documents and keep a record of my communications with the school. With the binder in a convenient spot, I can easily add documents, log phone calls, and review my son’s IEP goals.
The binder can be as simple or detailed as you want it to be. The most important thing is to organize your documents. They must be easy to find when you need them. Start with a basic 3-ring binder, hole punch, and section dividers. Gather your materials and label your dividers.
Here are the basic sections to include and label:
I keep an updated photo collage on the cover of my son’s binder. At the very front of the binder, I put our vision statement. This helped me and the ARD committee stay focused on my child’s individual needs and goals.
Here’s an example: It is important to our family that Tyler learns academic and social skills so he can one day have a job and friends in the community.
Optional sections include:
Review your child’s IEP binder often. The best binders are usually the ones dog-eared and highlighted from lots of use! Take it with you to every ARD meeting.
You can find useful templates and other resources for assembling your IEP binder on the Understood.org website.
Looking for other ideas to help you prepare for your child’s ARD meeting? See Developing an ARD/IEP Plan: How to get the most out of the meetings.
Critical thinking and problem-solving skills go beyond academics. Everyday life provides opportunities to apply these skills. During my son’s educational career, a lack of critical thinking and problem-solving skills was often noted in his Individualized Education Plan paperwork. While he may struggle with these skills academically, he solves problems all the time in his daily life.