There are a lot of questions about protocol for a Preschool IEP such as how does a parent know to ask about an assessment, and even more confusing is “when” to ask for an assessment.
For your first child, you don’t have many benchmarks with which to measure your child’s developmental progress. It helps if they are in Mommy and Me classes or other playgroups to compare their progress with other kids their age. But even then, very young children are still developing and if you aren’t completely tuned-in you’ll miss many of the signals.
Some things to think about if you have a preschool age child with developmental concerns and you’re wondering about a Preschool IEP:
1) Document everything. If you have a video camera use that to record situations that you’re unsure about such as low attention to sounds and listening, or non-verbal delays.
2) Try to integrate your child with other children the same age and let them spend as much time as possible together. Children have a way of communicating and interacting with other kids on a different level than they do with adults. Monitor these interactions and see if there are any delays compared with the other children.
3) Ask questions, especially with other parents who may have children a bit older. They can be a great resource because they have recently witnessed the growth at the younger age.
4) Take note of ear infections or other physical medical conditions and document them. You may need them later.
5) It can be difficult to pinpoint many problems until children are a bit older like first or second grade when you have more detailed academic progress reports to review. Nonetheless, ask for help at the first moment you feel something may be wrong.
If/when you take the next steps toward an assessment and eventually begin the process of a Preschool IEP, ask questions about anything you don’t understand. Always. Take notes, document everything, and keep good records. You will need them later. Finally, stay positive. You will get through this and wonder where the years went.