The IEP meeting is a design session with a specific purpose: creating a plan for your child’s education for the next year. Your child deserves the best effort from all the IEP team members in designing the plan. The school district has expertise in education techniques and you have expertise in your child’s behaviors and ways of thinking. By combining those types of expertise, a plan can be created that will effectively help your child learn despite your child’s special needs.Although the school district is legally required to individualize the plan for each eligible student, the district may not be focusing on your child’s individual needs. As a parent, you are the person who cares the most about your child, so don’t hesitate to speak up and advocate for things that will help your child learn. One way that you can be effective in advocating is paying attention to the meeting minutes – the written record of what is discussed. When important issues are discussed, make sure that the minutes reflect it. Try to honestly paraphrase the school official’s most recent statement in your own words and ask in a calm tone of voice whether the statement is reflected in the minutes. Doing this helps you two ways. First, your statement facilitates communication because if your honest paraphrase is incorrect, it helps the school officials communicate their true intent. Second, the fact that you are explicitly thinking about the minutes shows your seriousness in advocating for your child. The minutes are the record of what happened and will be very important in any legal challenge, and school officials know that. By being careful to protect your child’s rights, you let the school district know that you are a careful thinker who deserves to be taken seriously.