One little-known feature of IDEA is the section on parent training. Parents are often unaware that they can ask for training and/or counseling as part of their child’s Special Education.

A woman in glasses providing parent counseling and training in an IEP classroom.
Parent training on an IEP is in IDEA.

Parent Counseling and Training on an IEP

Many parents are intimidated because school personnel may know more about pedagogy or curriculum.

But there’s no need to be intimidated. In fact, the team is obligated to provide you with training if it’s appropriate.

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Parent Training in IDEA

Parent counseling and training is an important IEP related service. Yes, you read that correctly! If you are looking it up, it’s under the definition of related services.

IEP Parent Training is found in Section §300.34(c)(8) and reads:

(8)(i) Parent counseling and training means assisting parents in understanding the special needs of their child;

(ii) Providing parents with information about child development; and

(iii) Helping parents to acquire the necessary skills that will allow them to support the implementation of their child’s IEP or IFSP.

Statute/Regs Main Â» Regulations Â» Part B Â» Subpart A Â» Section 300.34 Â» c Â» 8

The first two parts of this definition are longstanding in IDEA.

The last part—regarding helping parents acquire the necessary skills that will allow them to support the implementation of their child’s IEP or IFSP—was added in the 1997 revision “to recognize the more active role of parents as participants in the education of their children” and is retained in IDEA 2004.

You know that ginormous Federal Register that explains IDEA and what was meant? It’s in there (71 Fed. Reg. at 46573). I’ll include it at the bottom if you wish to look it up.

As with all IEP related services, parent counseling and training would only be provided to parents “if a child’s IEP team determines that it is necessary for the child to receive FAPE.

Womp, womp. So there you go. Just like any other part of your child’s IEP, it’s a negotiation. Put your Parent Concerns in writing, do the ask, and ask for a follow-up with a PWN.

A mother and daughter engaged in IEP training on a laptop at home.
Mother helping and supporting her daughter and reinforcing skills at home.

What counts as Parent Training on an IEP?

Many parents find training and education on their own. Either you read articles online or you might attend workshops or other events that you’ve heard about from networking with other families.

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However, it has come to my attention recently that, particularly for Black families, training and education for an IEP are rarely offered.

Keep that in mind if you work on an IEP team and that your unconscious biases are not preventing you from offering training to some parents.

That being said, over the years, I have found some areas where parent training is particularly necessary or may only be available from a school team.

Here are some ideas for adding parent training to your IEP if appropriate.

A man and his son engaged in parent training, reading a book on the couch together.
Parents can be trained on how to practice and reinforce reading skills.

Free IEP Parent Training

Of course, if you’re on this website, you’ve already found one of the premier online resources for IEP parents.

I offer a variety of options both free and paid.

You can see all of the paid options for IEP training here.

Some of the free webinars and workshops that I have are:

Ideas for Parent IEP Training

  1. Training on how to use AT devices (this one is huge!)
  2. Training on software or computer programs that the child needs–anything you don’t understand, Study Island, Schoology, Nearpod, etc.
  3. IEP Data collection: learn how the team collects data so that you can replicate and understand it.
  4. Reinforcing whatever reading curriculum is being used; reinforcing reading skills.
  5. Any part of your child’s supports, services, or eligibility category that you do not understand.
  6. IEP Transition time–either preschool to kindergarten or the teenage transition time.
  7. Postsecondary options like OVR, workplace training, 13th years, etc.
  8. Explanations on vocational options if your child is pursuing that instead of the traditional college route.
  9. Any practice, exercises, or routines that your child does at school that you need to reinforce at home.

This is by no means an exhaustive list. It is just a handful of ideas that were a natural fit to add to an IEP, and we were not met with much resistance.

Parent training is an integral component of the special education process, particularly within the framework of Individualized Education Programs (IEPs). An IEP is a personalized plan designed to meet the unique educational needs of a student with a disability.

While educators and specialists play crucial roles in implementing IEPs, involving parents in the training process enhances the effectiveness of the program and fosters a collaborative partnership between home and school.

Importance of Parent Training on an IEP

  1. Empowering Parents: Parent training empowers parents to become advocates for their child’s education. Understanding the intricacies of the IEP process equips parents with the knowledge and skills needed to actively participate in decision-making, ensuring the best possible outcomes for their child.
  2. Enhanced Communication: Effective communication between parents and school professionals is vital for the success of an IEP. Training sessions facilitate open dialogues, allowing parents to express concerns, share insights into their child’s development, and collaborate with educators to tailor the IEP to the student’s unique needs.
  3. Consistent Support: Parental involvement through training ensures a consistent support system for the child. When parents are well-informed about their child’s IEP goals, accommodations, and strategies, they can reinforce these efforts at home, creating a cohesive learning environment.

Components of Parent Training in IEPs

  1. Understanding the IEP Process: Training sessions should begin with an overview of the IEP process, explaining key components such as assessments, goal-setting, and progress monitoring. Parents should gain insight into their rights, responsibilities, and the collaborative nature of developing and revising an IEP.
  2. Reviewing Assessments and Goals: Parents benefit from an in-depth review of their child’s assessments and proposed goals. This helps them comprehend their child’s strengths, challenges, and the specific interventions designed to address academic and developmental needs.
  3. Effective Advocacy Skills: Parent training should focus on developing effective advocacy skills. This includes teaching parents how to communicate assertively, ask pertinent questions during IEP meetings, and collaborate with the school team to create the most supportive learning environment for their child.
  4. Implementing Strategies at Home: Providing practical strategies that parents can implement at home is crucial. This may include reinforcing specific skills, employing behavioral strategies, and creating a supportive homework environment.
  5. Monitoring Progress: Training sessions should guide parents on how to monitor their child’s progress effectively. Understanding assessment data, progress reports, and communication logs empower parents to track milestones and collaborate with educators for necessary adjustments to the IEP.

Parent training in the context of IEPs is a dynamic process that benefits parents and students. By equipping parents with the knowledge and skills to actively participate in their child’s education, a more comprehensive and collaborative approach to special education emerges.

The ultimate goal is to create a seamless continuum of support that extends from school to home, fostering an environment where each child can thrive academically, socially, and emotionally.

Good luck, and as always, if you have questions, join our Forums and ask!

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