My Recipe For An IEP
By Rhonda Robinson Fall 1994
This year we are teaching five different grade levels from kindergarten to high school. Our children's abilities range from above average, average to special needs...... rounded off with a rowdy two year old and a nursing baby (by the way, I lost my super woman cape right after the baby was born - I'm offering a reward.....) How do you do it? You might ask. First, I rely heavily on my IEP and lesson plans
(and please do call two days in advance before you drop in). I believe home education is or should be an individualized education for all of my children. Writing an IEP is my way of charting our school year, it is my anchor to keep our eyes on what is important and my compass when we get off track ----again.
Fail to plan-----plan to fail! It is easy to feel like you don't have time to sit down and write out your goals for the year and lesson plans. The truth is you don't have time to fail. How well my day goes is directly proportionate to how well I have planned. That is not to say that all goes according to my plans. Rather it gives me a sense of direction when little ones are lining up with demands. Writing an IEP is sort of like making potato salad. Every woman has her own recipe that suits her family. Here's mine.
First we use a mixture of teaching methods such as unit study, delight directed, and we encourage a lot independent study. To determine what we will teach and how, we begin with an interview with each child. Together we write down her personal goals for the school year as well as her interests. I add my vision for her as I see what she needs to accomplish to fulfill her goals. Then I summarize by writing our goals as a family and her needs and responsibilities within our family unit. At the bottom of the page I list the books and materials we will use throughout the year. This is the first page of out IEP. For our average children we use a scope and sequence for grade levels. When using a scope and sequence you will usually find that most subjects are covered again and again throughout the early years of school, thus making it easier to teach these subjects to all of your children from the kitchen table. The rest of the subjects that need to be taught in sequential manner (like math) we encourage the children to work as independently as possible. This is the only way I can carve out enough time that I need to devote to the children who need my attention.
Just as being a mother is more than meeting the physical needs of our children and so too is homeschooling more than academics. Writing an IEP can be much more than setting goals. I call it writing an I HELP Individualized Home Education for Life Preparation. Setting goals for what matters in your life and family and working it into your daily life. Such as setting goals for character and behavior. When I first started home schooling I would hear other homeschoolers say that character was most important in their home. I remember thinking to myself, "Yeah...sure, that is easy for you to say because you have bright eager children. You are not two grade levels behind. What I have learned is, character is the most important trait. It is hard to teach a rebellious teenager anything!
The basic ingredients for a good IHELP are:
1.) Annual goals
2.) Obtainable short term goals
3.) List of materials and methods you plan to use.
4.) Documentation of meaningful progress (a journal or testing)
5.) Documentation of outside services.
One of our goals this year is "Public Behavior" for our seven-year-old daughter who is deaf. Polite, obedience in public places is our "Annual goal" Short term objectives include:
1.) Chelsea will hold hands with a younger sibling when in parking lots and department stores.
2.) Chelsea will use self control in department and grocery stores.
(Translation: Chelsea will not leave my side nor will she ask for everything off the shelf 100 times etc...)
Long Term Goal: Chelsea will increase her receptive and expressive language skills.
Short Term Goals:
1.) Chelsea will receptively identify (point to) 50 new words in the categories: food, clothing, household objects, animals and vehicles, with 90% accuracy.
2.) Chelsea will expressively identify (name or sign) the above 50 words with 90% accuracy.
For the above example of receptive, identifying 50 new words our daily lesson plans included reading (looking at the pictures actually). My First 1000 Words and going to the zoo and helping me do the laundry.
Sitting down to write your IHELP is simply setting goals for where you want to be. Pick two or three categories to start with. Remember, in order for your child to be all God intended you will need to set goals in your child's strong areas also. How do you eat an elephant? One bite at a time. Writing a good Individualized Home Educations for Life Preparation is taking that educational elephant and making it into appetizing digestible bites.