Nothing says home like an ooey, gooey chocolate chip cookie. It says, “I cared enough to bring you some chocolaty goodness.” It also says, “Let’s relax a bit, share a treat, and savor the moment.” And that’s exactly why I bring cookies to my IEP Meetings.
Pete Wright, Esq Always Brings Cookies to his IEP Meetings
I got this idea from Pete Wright, Esq: Special Education Attorney and Founder of the Wrightslaw Website for Special Education Advocacy. As a kid, Pete was diagnosed with Dyslexia and struggled through school as well as the Special Ed system. He knows what it’s like to be in Special Education as a student and to be on the other side of the table as an Attorney. He has won numerous cases and attended countless IEP meetings. Pete encourages his clients to bring three things to their child’s IEP Meetings: (1) A copy of the IDEA and/or one of his many Special Education Law Guides, (2) A container of healthy snacks, ones we all know we should munch on but usually save to eat as a last resort, and (3) a large Costco-size cookie tray- double the size of the healthy snack assortment.
This is not a ploy or a devious lawyer trick to sidestep the system. Rather, it’s simply an acknowledgement that the meeting you’re about to engage in is serious in nature and has the propensity to turn ugly rather quickly. After all, there is a 40 year history of Special Ed litigation in the public school system. Teachers and therapists come to the roundtable nervous to voice their opinions for fear of punitive measures by their employer. Administrators are careful with their words for fear of being sued. Parents are emotional.
Cookies take the edge off.
Extra Cookies End Up in the Teacher’s Lounge Where Parent/School Connections are Formed
So what happens when no one can eat the entire extra-large container of sweet treats? They take it to the teacher’s lounge where the extras end up in the hands of the very teachers that teach little Tyler, who needs Special Ed services. “Who brought these yummy cookies?” Teacher Jane asks. “It was Tyler’s Mom, from the IEP meeting this morning,” says Therapist Laura. “Oh, Tyler’s Mom? Wow, that was so nice of her!”, exclaims Teacher Jane.
And so a little connection is formed between the Parent and the Teacher, the one who will go to bat for your kid when it comes down to getting those much-needed support services.
Cookies Say Community
Besides the fact that cookies are inherently a memory-driven food that evoke sweet childhood moments, cookies–and food in general– have the effect of bringing people together. We bring over casseroles when a loved one passes away, we bring takeout when a new baby has arrived because the parents have been up since the 3am feeding and can’t even think about cooking, we have a potluck at our church or temple, we have dinner parties to celebrate birthdays and holidays, and of course who can forget the ultimate feast– Thanksgiving.
Food brings us together. We create memories. We create community. We create relationships.
This one simple idea can have profound effects on the relationship you, as the Parent, form with the school–the school that is the provider of the Special Ed Services you are seeking to obtain.
In the end, it’s not really about the cookies, of course, but rather a gesture of kindness. This little bit of goodwill shows your ability to approach a difficult situation with ease, to make those on the other side of the table feel comfortable, and to come together as a community for the betterment of your child in need.
For your IEP Cookie Needs: Costco Cookie Tray: $29.99
Christine Terry, J.D., is a Special Education Advocate & Founder of Terry Tutors. She created the One Comprehensive Wraparound Service for The Struggling Student. Want to Know More? Head on over to TerryTutors.com.