As parents and educators, your time is precious. Between juggling countless responsibilities at school and home, finding those extra minutes in the day can feel impossible. This is especially true when it comes to managing and navigating the often complex and time-consuming Special Education system and IEP process. 

But what if I told you that with a few simple time management strategies, you could streamline all the things you need to do before your next IEP meeting and make the process more efficient?  

Together with Time Timer®, I’ve created a comprehensive Time Saving IEP Prep guide with checklists that you can download here. 

Action Step: Block Out Time in Your Calendar 

The first step is to actually schedule time to work on IEPs. No matter if you’re blocking 15 minutes or an hour, protect that time. This prevents you from endlessly overthinking and worrying, “When am I going to find the time to work on the IEP paperwork?”. 

Action Step: Keep Your “Why” Crystal Clear 

Always keep the end goal in mind – to set a child up for future success. Let this big WHY guide your IEP decisions. Prioritize skills aligned with a child’s long-term independence. Don’t try to address every possible skill that could be tackled during a school day. Instead, stay focused on the highest priority skills. 

Action Step: Actively Involve Parents 

As parents, share your personal insights about your child’s needs through surveys or letters. This information can directly guide IEP goals. As educators, encourage parent input early on through easy forms like strengths/needs questionnaires. Collaboration saves time and leads to better IEPs. 

Action Step: Promote Student Self-Advocacy 

Children know their likes and dislikes best. Have children share their thoughts through pictures, presentations, surveys, interviews, and personal goal-setting. Their direct input reduces guesswork on how to connect personal interests and build an individualized approach to their education. 

Action Step: Share a Draft IEP 

Circulate a draft prior to the official meeting, with all meeting attendees, including parents. This allows everyone to come prepared with feedback, making the discussion more productive. When appropriate, also share pieces of the draft IEP with the child. This enables a child to offer their perspective of what might work or not work for the upcoming year. 

Bonus: Try using visual timers, like Time Timer®, both for children and for yourself! Timers provide a clear visual cue of time passing, helping all of us transition between tasks, and meet deadlines. If you’re considering incorporating timers into IEPs as support, be sure to download the Time Saving IEP Guide for ideas on how to officially add timers into a child’s IEP. 

You got this! With some planning and the right time management strategies, you can start navigating the IEP process without feeling frazzled. You’ll have space in your day to build a comprehensive IEP tailored to a child’s unique needs. And remember, an IEP does not need to be overcomplicated. Grab your Time Timer®, follow the checklist inside the full guide (link to guide), and get ready to focus on the highest priority needs to prepare every child for further education, employment, and independent living.  

Author: Catherine Whitcher, M.Ed is the founder of Master IEP Coach® programs for parents and teachers, host of the Special Education Inner Circle podcast, and has been helping parents and teachers through the IEP process for 25 years. If you’re unsure about how an IEP can support a child’s school day or want to level up a current IEP for maximum impact, reach out to Catherine here.  

Making Every Minute Count: Time Management Strategies to Streamline Your IEP Process

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