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10/30/2009 1:21:04 PM
Home School Legal Defense Association
HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter--October 2009

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HSLDA's Homeschooling Your Struggling Learner Newsletter
October 2009--What's So Important about IEPs?
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By Betty Statnick
HSLDA Special Needs Coordinator

Homeschooling allows parents of children with learning challenges,
and/or gifts and talents, to incorporate their child's strengths and
interests while they work together at the student's pace to "catch-up"
on basic skills.

Many parents opt to withdraw their children with special needs--those
who have already been under an IEP (Individualized Education Plan) in
a formal school setting--in order to homeschool them. Other parents
never enroll their children in any formal school setting because they
suspect that those children would struggle and likely "fall through
the cracks" if they were not homeschooled.

However, some homeschool support groups may require that parents
secure an IEP for these children. When HSLDA members call me about
developing an IEP, I often introduce them to the Clinical Teaching
Cycle Model which was developed by Janet Lerner, Ph.D., specifically
for teaching children who have learning problems. Here are the five
components of her model and my comments about them:

1. Diagnose

Have your child evaluated by an educational psychologist or another
professional such as a learning disability specialist, reading
specialist, speech and language pathologist, occupational therapist,
or physical therapist. The professional should give you a written
report explaining your child's strengths, areas of need, and also
recommendations for addressing those needs.

2. Plan

Based on your child's test results, the professional may work with you
to develop a customized plan of remediation, the IEP. This plan
contains specific goals, the time frame for accomplishing each goal,
and the materials, resources/curriculum you will need.

3. Implement

Put the IEP into practice.

4. Evaluate

After utilizing that plan for a period of time, the teacher may
realize that some of the goals are either too difficult or elementary
for the student, or that other materials will have to be used for
teaching. Therefore, some changes to the IEP are necessary. This
leads to the next step.

5. Modify

Adjust the IEP to allow more time for meeting goals or for more
realistic expectations. The modified IEP will now include goals which
are appropriate and, therefore, will more likely be attained by the
student.

There are many advantages for having an IEP (sometimes called
SEP--Student Education Plan):

1. It provides a written record of the skills your child has mastered
and of the skills yet to be mastered. It can help you focus on
specifics and not feel overwhelmed by impossible thinking--that you
have to do it all.

2. It provides the teacher with a plan for teaching, whereby you can
make appropriate adjustments to your child's school program such as
giving her the extra time needed to do assignments or reducing the
number of items to be worked.

3. It can include provisions for your child to demonstrate his
learning in ways other than just paper-and-pencil tasks. For
instance, "draw a picture to explain what was happening in the story."
(You'll be able to determine if he grasped the main idea of the
story.)

4. It provides a tailor-made program that suits the needs of your
child as well as the pace appropriate for meeting those needs. You
now have justification for not trying to whiz through the texts and
assignments.

5. It allows you to incorporate other needed therapies (such as speech
and language) as part of the student's school program.

6. It can give some concrete evidence of the child's progress. Both
student and teacher can see how far the pupil has come.

NOTE:

Recently, two different families have told me that their formal
requests to allow their homeschooled, college-bound sons to have
extended time for taking the SAT has been denied. Both of these
students had been formally tested (within the past two years) by a
professional, and the test results and written reports indicated that
the student should be allowed extended time for taking tests.

If a formal IEP had been developed years ago for those students (based
on testing at that time) and followed all along, it is likely that
those students would now be permitted to have the needed extra time
for taking the SAT.


Resources:

The Student Education Plan--A Preparation Guide by Judith Munday -
learn@helpinschool.net

The IDOC--Individualized Documentation by Sharon Wallace and Julia
Hoch (This was formerly the ISEP - The Individual Student Education
Plan) bbapath@msn.com

The IEP Manual--Individual Education Planning for the Handicapped
Student by Jim and Debby Mills (This is published by NATHHAN--
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=7142)

Please watch for a follow-up e-newsletter in the near future on how to
write an IEP/SEP.
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-> Who's knocking on your door?

When a social service worker arrives at your door, tension can run
high. Wouldn't it be nice to get your lawyer on the phone,
providing you with immediate step-by-step guidance?

More reasons to join HSLDA...
http://www.hslda.org/elink.asp?id=1099

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