Goals Parents Should Have When Planning for Their Child’s Life After School
As the parent of a student with a learning disability (LD), you play a crucial role in helping your child build a successful future. The Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA) requires that Individualized Education Programs (IEPs) for students age 16 and older include transition services, a clear plan of coordinated activities that facilitate the student’s life after K–12 education.
As a parent, you should take an active role by working with the school to plan the supports and services that will lead to your child’s success. Keeping these goals in mind as you embark on the transition process will help ensure that your child is on the right path.
Start Early and Be Prepared
Learn about how transition planning works in your child’s school. Although IDEA does not require transition planning to be formally part of the IEP until the student is 16, IEP teams are free to begin planning at an earlier age. Many students with LD need to start their transition planning in middle school because they may need to follow a specific course of study to keep on a path to achieve their postsecondary goals. As a parent, you should advocate for transition planning to begin at an early age.
Think About Your Child’s Needs for the Future
A good transition plan needs to directly support a student’s postsecondary goals and address the challenges a student might face as they move toward independent living. But deciding what these goals and challenges are can be challenging for both parents and their children. Ask yourself (and your child!) these questions:
- What are my child’s interests and abilities right now? Consider:
- Academic achievements, including academic abilities, basic skills, learning strategies and classroom accommodations and modifications
- Work skills, including career interests and exploration
- Extracurricular and social interests, hobbies and other talents
- Level of independence, including life skills, self-advocacy skills and responsibility
- What are my child’s goals for the future?
- What skills and experiences does my child need to reach these goals?
Make Your Child a Full Participant in the Transition Process
Students themselves play a crucial role in the transition planning process. IDEA requires that your child be included in the IEP meeting when the planning for transition services formally begins, but your child can be part of the IEP team even earlier. Before these important IEP meetings, make sure you are talking with your child about her interests, goals, plans and concerns. Help your child build her own self-advocacy skills.
Once the initial transition plan is in place, your work is not over. Periodically review and monitor the transition plan and services with other team members. Review NCLD’s Transition Considerations Checklist to make sure all necessary components of transition planning are being addressed. Continue to advocate for your child and encourage your child to self-advocate.