An IEP is an Individualized Education Plan, created by a child’s school to determine which specific objectives will be worked on, and how they will be measured.
I have been to 8 IEP meetings now, where the objectives have been gone over with me and I have signed off on them.
This year, because I was looking high and low for a receipt for something completely unrelated, I had the opportunity to review and organize my IEP file. Each IEP is about 20 pages long, and I have never actually sat down with one of Kepler’s and read all the way through it. In my file, I found an “IEP at a Glance” document from a couple of years ago which boiled down the pertinent details onto a couple of pages.
With my newfound energy and enthusiasm for all things Kepler, I decided to create my own IEP at a Glance doc for this year’s IEP. Turns out when I read it, not only do I actually understand the objectives, but I also am able to ask intelligent questions.
One of his objectives has to do with reading comprehension. How does one increase reading comprehension, I ask? Mr. Google had some very interesting answers, which I will be applying to our work together this summer.
As much as I accept my inability up to this point to do the kind of work that Kepler could have benefited from, I still find it hard to completely allow that to be the case. Of course, there is not one single thing I can do about the past, now is there. But it feels indulgent to allow those past transgressions to go unpunished. And yet, I realize that punishing myself doesn’t change anything about how it was. Putting my focus on now and on the future seems more productive, not to mention compassionate. If I could have done it differently in the past, I would have.
I found a (not free) resource tonight called “Reading and Writing for Children with Down Syndrome, Ages 5-11” and purchased it. I’ve only read eight pages and have already learned a tremendous amount about how to work with Kepler. Although the book says children with Down syndrome learn to read the same way other children do, they also point out that children with Ds tend to have “uneven ability profiles” which means that the steps may need to be broken down into much smaller parts, and the process completed at a much slower pace.
My biggest takeaway so far is that teaching the words as sight words first is of benefit because children with Ds are such visual learners. I’ve always loved phonics — it’s one of the most logical teaching methods I have ever used. But that’s not the best way to teach Kepler!
I’m so excited about the things I have already learned this summer with him. I hear the siren song of homeschooling calling my name, but I am just going to focus on right now, and see what we can do in these two months. Like I’ve said before — he deserves this. And, really, I think I do, too.