IEP Goals and Preparing for the Summer [IEP 032]
The school year is coming to a close and the kiddos are getting ready for summer!
How can you prepare your child’s IEP for the summer and new school year when there are potential transitions with teachers or schools? That’s we discuss in this episode.
Full show transcript at the bottom of this post.
What We Discuss:
- Make sure the IEP goals are written clearly so the next/new IEP team can understand what they are
- If needed, request an IEP meeting with the school
- The importance of having an IEP reviewed at the beginning of the new school year
- Why Extended School Year is sometimes counterintuitive and is not always necessary
Send us an email if you know of any summer activities, organizations, or resources that could be helpful for other parents searching for things to do this summer. You can reach us at email@example.com
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Full Show Transcript
Vickie: Welcome to the Inclusive Education Project. I’m Vickie Brett.
Amanda: I’m Amanda Selogie.
Vickie: We’re two civil rights lawyers on a mission to change the conversation about education, civil rights, and modern activism.
Amanda: Each week, we’re going to explore new topics which are going to educate and empower others.
Vickie: And give them a platform to enact change in education and level the playing field.
And we’re back.
Amanda: Hello, everyone.
Vickie: Inclusive Education Project podcast. I almost introduced ourselves because I felt like it’s been a while for us.
Amanda: We’re not doing that anymore, Vickie.
Vickie: I know. It’s been a while for us recording on our own, so I was like, “Oh, maybe people don’t recognize my voice.” But you’ve heard me every week for the past several weeks, so you know who I am.
Amanda: Yeah, I feel like this is our third week in a row where there’s no guest. Sorry, guys.
Amanda: It’s the end of the school year. Everyone is quite busy, IEPs back to back. You know how it is.
Vickie: Yeah. And so this episode, we’ll just kind of… We’re going to catch you up. I know Amanda just got back from Boston, and she talked about it a lot. So we’ll give her a chance to give everybody an update. But yeah, we’re playing it fast and loose this episode, giving you a little bit of tips and tricks for the end of the school year and what to do to prepare over the summer and then what to expect for the fall. So it’ll be a short little episode for you guys to listen to. But let’s get into it. So Boston.
Amanda: Boston. I was really disappointed. I didn’t hear enough Boston accents. We had one cab driver that was like full, hard Boston accent. But a lot of people, I was a little disappointed.
Vickie: Was there just people you think in town for the half marathon, for the First Responders half marathon?
Amanda: No. We went on a Sam Adams brewery tour, and the person who did the tour grew up in Boston.
Vickie: Oh okay.
Amanda: But did not have a Boston accent.
Vickie: Oh. Were they in the suburbs or like…
Amanda: I think it’s just… What our cab driver told us, because we were talking about it, I think it was our second day that we met him. And I was like, “Oh my gosh. You’re the first person to have a strong Boston accent.”
Vickie: Oh my god. You said that?
Amanda: Whatever. I’m a tourist. It is what it is. At least I don’t carry maps around.
Vickie: You’re from California. That’s what probably you sound like to me.
Amanda: Probably. But anyway, I was telling him that and he was like, “You know what? All these millennials, all these younger generations…”
Vickie: Oh my god.
Amanda: He said it. He said that they have lost their accent or they didn’t grow up with it. He said that it’s a weird thing that he’s noticed. So I wasn’t the only one. But no, it was a good trip. I successfully ran the half marathon. So this was my fifth half marathon I’ve done but my first one outside of California.
Vickie: Fifth in two years?
Amanda: Three years.
Vickie: Three years?
Amanda: Well, it was like November of 2016, I did my first one. And then I did three last year.
Vickie: Oh wow.
Amanda: Wait, what else did I do?
Vickie: You started kickboxing. I don’t know.
Amanda: I don’t know.
Vickie: I just feel like it’s been only two years, but I guess three sounds better, right?
Amanda: Well, I think maybe it’s like two and a half. But anyway, it was great. It was cold, and it was a little wet and very windy. But I was able to beat my record time in nine minutes.
Vickie: Yeah, you just said November 2016. That’s two years ago. I just noticed that.
Vickie: 2015. I don’t think it would have been 2015.
Amanda: Oh my gosh. No, it wouldn’t.
Vickie: You’ve done a bunch in a short amount of time. That’s insane.
Amanda: I know. I did three within nine months. That was ridiculous. That was too much. I don’t recommend that, guys.
Vickie: Yeah, yeah. ‘Cause this was your first one this year.
Amanda: This was my first one in 2018, yes.
Amanda: ‘Cause I did three in 2017.
Vickie: Yeah. Yeah. So, it’s 2016. Yeah, yeah, yeah.
Amanda: Yeah. No, but it was really good. Yeah, I beat my record by nine minutes, which was great. It was a different kind of race than I’m used to in California, just the setup. It was a lot of volunteers. But it was cool. There were several people who ran with American flags. It was Memorial Day weekend. And it was the Boston Run Remembers so it was to remember first responders. So there was at one point, I think it was mile 11 or something, that they had a row of just posters of first responders who had passed, like their pictures and their bios. So I was tearing up during that part. It was a little sad. But it was a good run. It was good to remember people. People had the… You know the Susan G. Komen walk, they’ll have “In Memory Of” on their backs?
Amanda: So they had that. So some runners were running for specific fallen first responders. So it was a really heart-warming race. It was good. And the [crosstalk 00:04:44]
Vickie: How was the weather?
Amanda: It was like 85 and humid the first couple days.
Amanda: And then it was cold and rainy and 50 the last couple. So I pretty much had to pack for all weathers. I guess the rain is just following me through, ’cause the last half marathon I had done, it rained.
Vickie: Oh. That was in November of last year?
Amanda: No, the one that was the OC half in May of last year. And it rained and hailed. It was awful.
Vickie: Oh yeah. Yeah.
Amanda: So I guess I just need to… If you’re thinking of signing up for a half marathon, probably don’t do the one that I sign up for ’cause most likely there will be rain.
Vickie: It’ll just be rain. It’ll just be rain. I got new carpet for my house, so that was the most exciting thing. I literally probably said that three or four times. I think one of our friends got a new, sweet car and I was like, “I just bought carpet today.” My brother was saying something about something cool.
Amanda: That’s a very adult. That’s a very adult update to have.
Vickie: Yeah, it sucks. But it’s nice. It feels good. So that was probably the most exciting thing. But yeah, no. Boston, you were out a good amount of time. We figured out how to do an away message on your email.
Amanda: Oh yeah, that was complicated.
Vickie: It was super complicated. But I feel like, around that time, people weren’t even sending that many emails anyway. Or were you just checking all of them? ‘Cause at one point, I had to go on your computer to check and, unless you were opening them while you were [crosstalk 00:06:05]
Amanda: I was.
Vickie: Oh, you were.
Amanda: I was.
Vickie: Oh okay. I was like, “Oh wow, she’s not getting any emails.”
Amanda: No, I was just making sure there weren’t any emergencies, which there was one, but you know, it happens.
Vickie: We figured [crosstalk 00:06:15]
Amanda: I try to unplug a little bit.
Vickie: That’s good. I think that’s important. I don’t think we do that enough.
Amanda: No, I don’t think we do either.
Vickie: I’m trying to get in the habit of putting my phone by my purse. It’s hard though because people call you after work to catch up or blah blah blah. And it’s just like, “Eh.”
Amanda: I’ll have days where I get text messages during the day, and I don’t have my phone at all because I’m just constantly running around. And then I look at my phone afterwards. So then I’m constantly responding to text messages later in the evening, so it’s…
Amanda: Sorry to people who try to text message me during the day.
Vickie: It’s not going to work.
Amanda: It’s hard sometimes.
Vickie: So that was a nice little break before June. So typically June winds down [crosstalk 00:07:00]
Amanda: It was probably the worst time for me to go on vacation.
Vickie: I think it was fine.
Amanda: The end of the school year.
Vickie: No, it was fine. You figured it out. You were able to go. But yeah, our typical time would probably be July, and it’s just really expensive to go anywhere. But I mean, it is what it is. But yeah, just looking at our calendars, June for us typically starts to slow down. But I’m looking at our calendar and it just kind of revved up, like Amanda said, between the IEP meetings. There’s a lot of end of the year IEP meetings. Sometimes, on an emergency basis ’cause something happened in May and sometimes that’s just where the kiddos annual IEP falls, which is kind of good and bad.
It’s good because you see what happened that entire year.
Vickie: What’s bad is when they’re transitioning to junior high or high school and those people aren’t at the IEP meetings, and then you have [crosstalk 00:07:46]
Amanda: It’s an all new staff the next year.
Vickie: Junior high team making goals and doing all this stuff. And the expectations are different in high school.
Amanda: Yeah, and I think what we want to talk about today a little bit is you’re approaching the end of the school year. What are some things that maybe you should check up on or follow through on and how to prepare for the summer. So, one thing that I see with these IEPs at the end of the school year, either we’re transitioning to a new teacher the following year or we’re, like Vickie said, transitioning to middle school or high school. And we’ve got a completely new team.
When we’re looking at goals, it’s really important that we make sure the goals are very clear because I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had an IEP at the beginning of the school year where a new team is looking at goals drafted by an old team, even if it’s the same level like a middle school team to a middle school team, how many people are like, “Well, I’m trying to report on these goals. But as written, it’s not met,” or “As written, it’s met. But…” Because the goal wasn’t written in the same mentality. So someone sees…
We always say how one word can have so many different meanings. So when you have terms in a goal, you want to make sure that anybody who’s picking that up knows exactly what it is that you’re talking about, knows exactly what it is that we’re doing and we’re trying to accomplish with this goal.
Vickie: We always try to tell a parent, “Look, if you can go home and try this goal as it’s written, then it’s a good goal,” right?
Vickie: Because then anybody really could pick it up. And so I always ask, “Well, four out of five opportunities. What’s an opportunity?” Okay, why is it 80 percent? A lot of parents ask that. It should be a hundred percent, but not everybody’s perfect, and 80 percent typically is mastery.
Vickie: You’re not always going to get all the correct answers. It depends on the baselines. And the baseline should be rooted in standardized testing. Or sometimes, they do informal testing. But is that really truly the capability of your child?
Amanda: Right. Or the baseline should match the goal. And we can do a whole pod on goals, and we should actually. We’ll write that down. We’ll do that. But in terms of… Yeah, so make sure that your goals are clear so a new team picking it up… And same with accommodations as well, making sure that they’re clear. So in general, it’s a good rule of thumb that anything in your IEP should be easy for anyone, any lay person to read and understand what is the expectation.
And that’s what they’re supposed to be written for, parents who are technically lay people.
Vickie: And if you have an end of the year IEP, it might be good, especially if there’s a transition from elementary to junior high or junior high to high school, parents can request an IEP meeting. And within 30 days, the school needs to arrange the IEP meeting. So sometimes, I just tell parents, I was telling a parent this morning, “We should try this. He’s going to be in a first grade classroom. We want him to mainstream. Let’s try it for the first 30 days of the new school year and then let’s request an IEP meeting.” ‘Cause then you can check in, you can figure it out. And if it works, it works.
You don’t have to wait until the end of the school year. Maybe even do an IEP meeting. If you have an IEP meeting in June, that’s the annual. Have a check-in in November or December.
Amanda: Yeah. I think for the most part, unless everything is running completely smoothly, if there’s any concerns, you really should always have some kind of check-in IEP, whether it’s 30 days in, 60 days, just because… And I’ve had parents that’ll say, “Well, I really want to talk about something before the school year’s over so that it’s set in stone before the school year starts.”
Well, when the child has the summer off, you don’t know how they’re going to start the school year. Anything could happen over the summer. And so to focus so much on, “Well, we need to have this set in stone before the school year is over,” I don’t see that as important as some things as having that check-in and having it reviewed at the beginning of the school year because that’s when we really know. Because we could put a lot of things set in stone in June, but come August/September, we’re in a different place, especially with our younger kiddos, who three, four, five, so much growth happens in three months that, to go from June to September, just inherently things could be different.
Vickie: And I think what’s important for parents to understand is that extended school year, yes, typically happens over the summer. But extended school year actually can make reference to sometimes school districts have winter breaks over about three weeks. And why we say extended school year and we can be doing programming and things like that, it’s difficult. We’ve done it, but that’s something to keep it mind too. And the purpose is will your child or your child’s disabilities the type where they could possibly regress.
We hear this all the time from districts. And it’s mostly one of those things where sometimes we’ll say, “The child will regress.” And then they’re like, “Oh, but it’s not anything that we can’t recup within the first couple weeks of a new school year.”
Amanda: Right. Right.
Vickie: And it’s just like, “That doesn’t make any sense.” But I think that’s important to and for parents to know that extended school year, sometimes it’s good. Sometimes, the kiddo is with kids that aren’t typical or lower functioning.
Vickie: It’s optional. You don’t have to do extended school year.
Amanda: Well, ’cause it’s not typically, especially in elementary school, ESY is a lot of students lumped together in one classroom. It’s not going to be necessarily your same class. It’s not going to be necessarily your same teacher. So if your child is one that has difficulties with transitions and new people, sometimes ESY can be counterintuitive because we’re dealing with a very short period, which sometimes it’s only like two or three weeks where they’re having to adjust to a new person. That may be more dramatic or more of a problem than it’s intended to benefit from.
So we’re not saying ESY is all bad, but it’s not always necessary. I think I’ve gotten this question three times in the last week. Do we have to do ESY? And I have said, “You know what? You don’t have to. It’s not mandatory. It’s not like truancy law safe or the regular school year. You can opt out of it,” especially if a lot of parents plan things for their child over the summer. Summer camps, extracurricular programs, maybe an art class. If what you’re planning for your child still has some semblance of structure, some semblance of they’re learning something, which guess what, soccer camp, art class, they’re learning, right?
So any type of program like that, if they’re still learning and there’s still somewhat of a structure, they’re not going to regress so much that we can’t recup if they have that program versus the traditional ESY, because it’s okay for kids, because they are kids, to have a little bit of a break and have a little bit of fun. Oftentimes [crosstalk 00:14:27]
Vickie: Yeah, they work so hard during the school year, especially with the expectations we sometimes put on them. Actually, I had a client that she was telling me that there is… They’re in, I think Yorba Linda and Huntington has this too apparently. There’s just this mud pit where you could just go for half the day.
Vickie: Yeah. It’s crazy. They have a zip line. They have stuff for you to make stuff, like I guess mud castles.
Amanda: That is amazing.
Vickie: Yeah, it was so crazy. And then she was just like… Somebody else was like, “Oh yeah, they have one in Huntington. It’s really weird. You walk in. You’re kind of thinking you’re in the middle of this field. It’s kind of scary. And then all of a sudden, it opens up.” And I was like, “What is going on?”
Amanda: I need to find that. I’ve got some little ones that would love that.
Vickie: We modified the extended school year that this particular child was going to have. So she’s going to get an intensive reading program for a couple hours a day, and Mom just doesn’t think that more than two and a half hours would do her any good anyway. And sometimes, with dyslexia, we hear four hours a day, but [crosstalk 00:15:26]
Amanda: Or a point of diminishing [crosstalk 00:15:28]
Vickie: Exactly. And it’s summer so she’s just like, “And I want to make sure she does that in the morning. And then in the afternoon, they can go to this mud pit thing.” Yeah, it’s crazy. You get a season pass, I guess. And it’s just like, “What?”
Amanda: Wow. Well, just thinking of the sensory benefit to some kids, something like that… There are kids that would not benefit from it, the ones that do not like to get dirty.
Vickie: Right. Right.
Amanda: That don’t like the textures on them.
Vickie: Yeah, it’s not going to be for everyone.
Amanda: No, but that’s really cool. I need to learn about that.
Vickie: Yeah. There’s one in Huntington.
Amanda: What’s it called?
Vickie: You know what? I’ll talk to her or I’ll probably check my notes because we were talking about it, and I was like, “What is going on? I never heard of it.”
Amanda: We’ll look it up and put it in the show notes.
Vickie: Oh yeah, yeah. We definitely want to. I think we had done an episode similar to this at the end of last year talking about different programs that are year round. But we’ll definitely want to be able to do what summer activities are happening or just kind of like… We were talking about mental health. May was Mental Health Awareness month. We had found a calendar with OC stuff to do. So we’ll try to do that.
Amanda: Or if you’re a listener, whether you’re in southern California or you’re not, and you have a great summer program or extracurricular activity, send us an email or direct message us on Instagram or Facebook or on our website. And let us know that program, and we’ll spread it to other moms. That’s something that I see all the time is that, a lot of times, families don’t know about how many programs there are out there. So we love spreading that around. So send it over to us.
And just to round out this episode, I’m going to steal from Karen and Georgia, this mini-sode, we want to share kind of some exciting news. So for those of you who follow us on Facebook, we’re going to be creating a Facebook group. So different from a page, where its intention is going to be a community group. So it’s a space, a safe space for parents, teachers, providers, pediatricians, moms, anyone that wants to just have a space to talk about issues that they’re dealing with or suggestions for strategies. And we’re going to be popping in and out of conversations to kind of give input. But kind of like a forum.
I know there’s a lot of parent groups out there on Facebook already that kind of serve this purpose, but a lot of time, they’re very centric of Orange County moms or the dyslexia awareness group or they’re very specific. So this is intended to be for everyone because you can learn a lot from people who are very similar to you, but you can also learn a lot from people who you wouldn’t expect. And so that’s kind of what our goal is with this community, to help develop a change in that conversation and spreading that conversation.
So keep an eye out in the next couple of weeks for… We’ll be posting it on our Facebook how you can join.
Vickie: Yeah, it should be fun. We’ll give it a go. We’ll see how it goes. I think it’s a nice place to be able to probably vent, give ideas to other parents. I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had parents with very specific disabilities that their child has. And they find a group, and it’s that support. So we’ll give it a try. And you guys will let us know how it goes.
So I guess that’ll do it for this little mini episode. We have some exciting things planned that’s all alluded to.
Amanda: Stay tuned.
Vickie: Stay tuned. Exactly. Have a good rest of your day, evening, morning, whatever it is, whenever you’re listening to it. And we will catch you next week.