ARD (IEP) Binder:
If your child’s ARD meeting is scheduled for next week, do you know where your copy of their current ARD (IEP) document is? What about their last IEP progress report? Or the most recent Full and Individual Evaluation (FIE)? Are they buried under stacks of paperwork and bills? Perhaps mixed in with the school work of your other children or even scattered through out the house and car? Maybe you have all the paperwork in one neat stack but you are feeling overwhelmed and don’t know where or how to even start to prepare for the meeting? I am not here to blame, trust me I have been there. Life is overwhelming, especially with a child with special needs. I am here to help you through this process and make navigating the special education process a little less overwhelming and stressful.
Let’s start by creating an ARD (IEP) binder to organize all those documents.
Why the Need for an ARD (IEP) Binder?
I once read on Parents Reaching Out that, “Record keeping is one of the most important and empowering ways you can help your child. As you begin to keep records together, you will better understand your child’s disability and your child’s history. You will also better understand how that history might influence future services and programming and how the system works. The time and effort you give to keeping accurate records will help you secure the services and support that your child needs to be successful.”
This binder will help you prepare for ARD (IEP) meetings, keep track of your child’s progress and record calls and other communication with the school and as stated above, create a history of your child’s education allowing you to effectively advocate for the services and programming your child needs. Once you have it put together be sure to bring it with you to all school meetings. I remember the confidence boost I got when I brought my binder to my daughter’s ARD meetings. I felt that I was able to better advocate for my daughter with an organized file and was able to reference a document quickly if I needed to provide documentation to back up my request.
Creating the Binder:
If you were to do a search on the internet on creating IEP binders, you would find several different ways, from keeping them in chronological order with the newest document on top to the way I discuss below. None of them are wrong. I have found in my personal experience that when at an ARD (IEP) meeting it is easier to access a document in the format I am sharing. You can make this binder as simple or detailed as you would like. I created a new binder for every school year for my daughter. I also added a picture or photo collage in the front cover each year.
- Medium 3 Ring Binder
- Index Tabs
- Sheet Protectors (for documents you do not want to punch holes in)
- Three Ring Hole Punch
- Notebook paper for taking notes at meetings
To start, gather up all the documents you have for your child for their current grade. You will then organize them according to the sections they will be placed in the notebook with the most recent document on top. If you do not have a current copy of your child’s IEP or Section 504 plan and/or evaluations you can request these from your child’s school.
- Current IEP/Section 504
- Procedural Safeguards
- IEP Progress Reports
- Report Cards
- Discipline Records/Behavior Charts
- State and District Assessments Results
- Communication (E-Mails/Letters)
- Work Samples
- Meeting Notes
- Communication Log
- Log of Events
- Transition Planning
If you need help creating your child’s IEP binder or obtaining records from your child’s school, reach out to me and I would love to help.