Creating an Individualized Education Plan for Our Kindergartner

Last Friday, we were notified by T’s child and youth worker that a parent had complained to the teacher, specifically about T not giving a classmate personal space.

I read this entry in her daily log entry late Saturday evening after experiencing the high of a wonderful Halloween celebration with T.

It bummed me out, as I recalled unpleasant memories of T’s Montessori pre-school and when the board booted him out after a parent complained about his behaviour to the owner.

Thankfully, things are different at his new school – a public school – because we have a wonderful team of advocates, including his principal, teachers and child and youth worker.

Part of this support includes the development and implementation of an Individualized Education Plan (IEP).

As described by our school board, an IEP is “a written plan that describes special education programs and/or services for a student. It is based on a student’s profile of strengths and needs.”

According to the US Department of Education, “the IEP creates an opportunity for teachers, parents, school administrators, related services personnel, and students (when appropriate) to work together to improve educational results for children with disabilities.”

The school offered us the option to participate in the development of the IEP and we gladly accepted. The school asked who else we wanted to be consulted and we asked for T’s behavioural therapist to be included, because she has valuable insights from working with T.

During the consultation with T’s teacher, child and youth worker, and principal, we talked about T’s strengths, areas of needs and our goals for him.

We identified the following as T’s strengths:

  • Visual learner
  • Hands-On learner
  • Independence on preferred tasks
  • Gross motor skills
  • Rote learner
  • Motivation through special interests

We identified the following as T’s areas of need:

  • Behaviour management
  • Self regulation
  • Transitions
  • Social skills
  • Communication
  • Attention and focus
  • Fine motor skills

We conveyed our goals in two broad categories:

  • Academic – e.g. building pre-reading, pre-math, handwriting skills
  • Social – As outlined in the list of areas of need above

T’s teacher provided us the draft IEP for review end of last week and it nicely captured what we discussed.

An IEP also outlines the school’s goals for T, along with the teaching strategies and their assessment method to gauge T’s progress.

I like that each goal is realistic and measurable. For example, “T will improve his ability to follow class rules without adult support at least 60% of the time.”

We were pleased with the IEP and signed off on it. We look forward to checking in on T’s progress with his teacher throughout the year.

I’ve read stories of special needs parents who have found it to be a struggle to get an IEP or for it to be developed and implemented.

So we consider ourselves to be blessed to have amazing people on Team T, as we affectionately refer to them as.

We are also thankful for T’s amazing child and youth worker.

We only have her support this year, so we hope for T to get as much mileage from her one-on-one support as possible. And we are already seeing a difference and growth in him.

She uses a daily log book to document and to provide us with updates on T’s progress.

She lists three daily goals for T and she reports how he does with them; a check mark for when he meets these goals at the various daily activities and an X for when he doesn’t meet them.

The hubby and I appreciate her concise, clear and honest feedback. I like that she doesn’t downplay T’s challenging moments, as it doesn’t do anyone, especially T, any good.

What we feel especially thankful for is that she is a champion for T. She addresses his challenging behaviour, but she also celebrates his daily victories and she sees the big picture – which is all about the incremental gains.

When we reached out to her about the parent who complained to T, she was reassuring in her response and kept us focused on the larger picture. Really, we couldn’t ask for more.

If it’s anything the last few years of school has taught us is that it will be a winding road with T.

But we remind ourselves that we are covering new ground every day – no matter how incremental – and leaving a paved road of lessons learned and mostly positive memories behind us.

There is always a reason to stay the course and look ahead with optimism.

And with T’s IEP, we have an additional tool – a roadmap – for the school year ahead.

20 thoughts on “Creating an Individualized Education Plan for Our Kindergartner

  1. Hiya! Your son’s list of strengths and weaknesses, his impulsive behavior etc sound like me as a child. I too was the “bad kid” (I put in quotation marks because I like T want not truly bad but had my struggles with differences. I have ADHD disgraphia discalculia autism level 1 (formerly aspergers syndrome) anxiety/depression. I am now 26 and finishing up college. Never lose this awesome hope you have for him. I enjoy reading your blog.

    1. Thank you so much! This was such a wonderful comment to share. I shared it with the hubby and it brought a tear to his eyes. 🙂 We appreciate your taking the time to share such an uplifting comment and it’s added fuel to keep trying for our awesome little T.

  2. Inspiring share my friend. Always a positive , uplifting feeling to read and discover your world and of your family. It’s a relaxing break from the politics here in the U.S. Your son’s picture running reminds me of my 15 year old at that age, free, magical, amazing! Take care.

    1. Thank you. 🙂 I feel for you all down in the US. The endless barrage of political headlines must get so wearisome. And I love that running photo of T too. It embodies such hope and freedom. 🙂

      1. For now, U.S. have two acting Presidents on opposite ends of the spectrum . It’s been crazy but focusing on the positives and the holiday spirit helps. Thanks

  3. Glad to hear that you were consulted on the development of T’s IEP. Sounds like the process was clear and transparent, which is always good. It’s nice to have tangible and measurable outcomes. Random sidebar: Is the first picture of T running in the sand at Presqu’ile? The place looks so familiar.

    1. Thank you! 🙂 We are glad to have the IEP. And yup, it’s Presqu’ile. I love that place. I thought it’d be a more exciting image for a blog post than a stack of paper. 🤣 Hope you enjoy this beautiful weekend!!!

      1. Presqu’ile is one of my favourites too. If you like sandy areas, I would recommend visiting Darlington (which I think you have already). We went there for the first time last month. This warm weather that we’ve been having has been amazing!! Hope it lasts!

      2. Darlington is a short drive from us. We only stopped by to grab a sticker. Hahaha. If we get one more nice day this Fall, we may make it a day trip. Hope you got to enjoy the nice weather this past weekend!

      3. There are a few short hiking trails in Darlington, all of which are relatively flat and easy. There’s also a pretty decent beach area. There’s a campground here too, but I probably would never camp here as the sites don’t look private, and it’s also so close to home. The weather forecast is looking promising over the next few days. No rain until Sunday!

        We went to Frontenac Provincial Park last weekend, which is open all-year round. It was surprisingly busy, but there are so many trails, so we didn’t encounter too many people while hiking.

  4. IEP’s are so wonderful! You are very fortunate to have this group of adults implementing it. They had a similar plan with the adults with developmental disabilities I worked with too. It really does work and I wish T all the success with his team!

    1. Thank you Diane! We’re hopeful it will be an added boost to help him maximize his success this year. It’s been a great year and team so far and I hope there are no lockdowns to slow down the momentum!

    1. Thank you LaDonna! We have great people on his team. I know it’s not always going to be like this every school year so gonna enjoy the great moments while we can! 🙂

  5. It is so great to have a team that is working with you and your child towards the child’s needs and goals. It sounds like you have that great team, which is awesome! Hopefully, you will see a lot of great growth with all of the support!

    1. Thanks Robyn. We’ve been really lucky the last two years with his new school. I know it’s not always going to be like this so gonna enjoy the highs while we can! 🙂 it’s been great so far and hope the momentum continues! Hope D is having a good time back at school too!

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