Our Stories

Giving Each Child Our Best

by Liora Brosbe, Jewish LearningWorks Senior Educator

An Individual Education Program (IEP) is a complicated and legal document used in many schools to advocate for, and address the needs of students with disabilities. A family often spends a lot of energy to go through the process in collaboration with their local public school district. This process is done with the school district even if the student doesn’t attend a public school. An IEP process can be initiated as early as preschool and can help offer services for children ranging from Occupational Therapy, Speech language therapy, social skills groups and more.

One might ask: how can this document relate to the educational settings that primarily focus on play-based, experiential learning, or family engagement? While the creation and implementation of an IEP varies widely by school district and educational setting, the purpose of an IEP is advocacy and collaboration. These two approaches to a children’s learning are especially important to families with children who have disabilities, and applies to their needs in every setting.

“Reading an IEP can be like reading a document in a language we don’t speak, or at least, are not fluent in. Learning to read an IEP as an inclusive Jewish educator can open doors of connection and collaboration with children, their families, and their support teams.” – Alison Sorscher

However, being able to “translate” the information in an IEP to your particular setting may take more than collaboration and seeing the child’s parents as an advocate. What accommodations or tools would be helpful for the child to engage, learn, focus, and be curious? While testing and academic skills might not be necessary in their Jewish educational space, helping the child to feel confident might mean using specific tools to help them regulate their emotions, minimize distractions, and optimize the potential for their ability to connect and communicate with others.

An IEP can provide Jewish educators with a valuable resource to provide inclusive and intentional approaches to help students with their unique needs. At Jewish LearningWorks we provide professional development opportunities to train and support teachers in learning and understanding how to integrate best practices into their programs.

Special Needs & Inclusion Initiative

Jewish LearningWorks offers tools, training and consulting services to ensure that all children can participate fully in Jewish life and learning, and all Jewish educators are equipped to create inclusive learning environments for children with special needs.