The individual educational plan is one of the most important tools in working with children with special educational needs. It is a formal document that contains detailed information about the child and the services it is to receive. It is developed by a team of teachers and professionals and integrates their efforts to develop a comprehensive program of work with the child and at the same time, determines what services each provides specialist. Parents are active participants in the development of individual educational plan because they know their children better than others. Individual educational plan identifies the necessary adaptation and modification and serves as a basis for further planning training sessions. It is developed and implemented for each student with special educational needs.
Before defining the specifics of the components of the individual educational plan, it is important to consider the general image of the individual educational plan. For example, its purposes and how the plan serves as a project of the child’s special education, and the borders of the activities and settings. The individual educational plan has two common purposes. The first one is the establishment of the measurable goals for the child for a year. The second purpose considers the realization of the goals. It is about the statement of the special education and various services related to it.
While constructing an appropriate individual educational plan for a child with the special educational needs, the individual educational plan team pays attention to the child’s participation and involvement into the three main spheres of the school life, as general education curriculum, extracurricular activities, and non-academic activities. The general educational curriculum means the subjects, which the children without disabilities learn, and the associated skills which these children’s parents and teacher expect to develop. The examples may include math, science, history, and language arts. The extracurricular and non-academic activities refer to the school activities outside the general curriculum. They are usually free-will and consider being more social than academic. The teachers or other school personnel organize and guide them and involve the others of the same age. These can be yearbook, school sports, band, school newspaper, lunch, school clubs, field trips, recess, assemblies, recreational clubs, after-school programs, and pep rallies.
The individual educational plan can be understood as the project for the child with the special educational needs which creates the proper environment and guarantees the educational experience across all of these school environments.
Considering the components of individual educational plan, while creating an individual educational plan main attention is paid to the development of the specific instructional strategies and approaches, as well as the system of additional services that will give the child an opportunity to learn successfully in the regular classroom. Usually, an individual educational plan contains the following components as information about the child, current level of knowledge and skills, aims and other.
The individual educational plan begins with information about the child which includes general facts such as name of the child, its age, address, phone number, names of parents, developmental disability, date of admission of the child to school, the validity duration of the IEP. The current level of knowledge and skills of the child is the data on the level of development of the child, recorded during observations and research: its skills, strengths, learning style, especially if one of the styles dominates, that the child cannot do, what they need help more. The facts, that parents are worried about, should be noted in the plan. All of this information must be as specific as possible because they are the basis for further tasks development.
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The next component contains goals and tasks. They should help the child learn certain knowledge and skills. They must meet the current level of the student. In the defining of these goals and tasks, all people who are involved in the work with the child take part. The goal is a statement about the desired result. It may relate to knowledge, skills, and behaviors. It should be clearly articulated, expressed through the positive affirmations and be clear to everyone who reads them. The tasks are the necessary intermediate steps toward aims outlined by clear and simple terms. The goals must be specified in all areas that are experiencing special development: intellectual, social and emotional development, development of the motility, language skills, etc. The goals and tasks serve for the creation of the individual educational plan as the main direction. Without them, the plan cannot be written and achieved.
The special and additional services are next in the educational plan and should be provided with appropriate training specialists such as a speech therapist, physiotherapist, psychologist and other specialists. The teachers and professionals work together to integrate additional services into the educational process. Sometimes, a student needs more intensive or special services that may be available only in the appropriate environment. This can be, for example, training using special equipment. In this case, it is advisable to negotiate with the appropriate facility that can provide such services. An individual curriculum is to be determined the number and duration of employment specialists with the child. These services guarantee the implementation of the individual educational plan and help the achievements.
The appropriate adaptation and modification environment allows children with disabilities to learn in the regular classroom. In developing the plan, it is to draw attention to the necessary improvement of the environment, the use of appropriate teaching methods, materials and equipment, excluding sensory and other needs of the child. The child with the special educational needs may not fit into the usual environment. The proper one helps the child to develop with fewer difficulties.
The duration of the individual educational plan validity is also important component of the plan. Usually, an individual educational plan is developed for one year. However, group members to develop individual educational plan, for example, parents, administrator, teacher, may at any time offer to hold a meeting to modify the plan or make a new one. It may be necessary, for example, if the child has reached the goal or have difficulty in achieving those goals. The reason can be also the received request to increase the number of services to the child or the child’s observed behavior problems. The modification of the plan is necessary when the child is transferred to another school. Traditionally, the development of the IEP begins immediately after the arrival of the child to the class, and the term of the plan expires in a year. However, this process can be varied by adapting it to the overall school planning. The duration of the individual educational plan is one year as for children with traditional educational needs.
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The information on the progress of the child is an integral part of the development process in individual educational plan. It is to assess and collect information about the child. It can gather the work samples of the child, the results of observations, control sheets, descriptions of behavior, test scores, and comparisons with a typical level of development. This information corrects the former plan and directs it into the right direction. This is a significant part of the individual educational plan. Without it, the plan can fail.
The conduction of a comprehensive assessment of the strengths and weaknesses of the child is a significant part of the analysis of the child’s development. The creation of an individual educational plan for children with disabilities comes before the period of assessment, which makes it possible to identify such features as behavioral, educational priorities, specific skills, as well as the overall level of student. This information enables the teacher for the proper building of a learning process to meet the needs of children and to promote their full development. The formal assessment of children with special techniques, which should involve parents and professionals. The evaluation process should be understood as the collecting of the comprehensive information about the child, which serves then for the determination of the student strengths and areas where it stays behind. The estimation process has an aim to determine the current level of development of the child, which makes it possible to develop appropriate educational plan and activities. The process of assessing students with special needs should be comprehensive, directional and more specific than the process of assessing children with typical development level. The complexity is necessary in order to the most accurately determination of the child’s possibility and all the areas where it needs a help.
This evaluation process involves the specialists from several disciplines. This should be a continuous and collective process of systematic observation and analysis. The results, obtained during a single observation by only one expert, cannot be considered as reliable.
The creation of the effective individual education plan requires the joint efforts of teachers, parents and professionals. It should reassure parents that during the assessment of the child, the analysis of the results of focus will turn into strong as an apprentice, which is the process of gathering information to help teachers and professionals working for the benefit of the child, that it is a method for the development of an individual educational plan that fully meets the needs of the child. The information about the child can be obtained from various sources, for example, from parents, adults, including those with whom the child lives, from the child itself, from the professionals who work with it and others. The specialists can help more accurately determine the level of development and needs of the child. Such professionals as speech therapists, surd-educators, visual impairment specialists, doctors, psychologists, and others can significantly help in evaluating the child. After completion of the assessment, the teachers and specialists analyze the results. After receiving the results of a comprehensive evaluation, it is a time for access to the individual educational plan development.
The individual educational plan is the result of hard and detailed work of parents, teacher, specialists and partly the child. The plan is important for the child’s development and helps it to fit the educational environment and get as much knowledge and skills as possible.
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