Tips for Writing Therapy Goals

Over the past 9 years of my working career, one of the most constant concerns from parents arises when it’s time to write goals for their child.  Goals are important for everyone.  They help us get to where we want to go. To get to that ultimate destination, we must have clearly defined goals.  By establishing these goals, we can then take actions steps to accomplish them.

For a goal to work, there must be 5 components:

  1.  Goals Must Be Specific – Goals need details in order to be accomplished.  Dave Ramsey says, “a vague goal is only a dream.”  For example, a goal that states, “Johnny will say words” is not specific.  How many words?  What type of words?  For a goal to be the most beneficial, it must be specific and detailed.  A specific goal would be “Johnny will say nouns.”
  2. Goals Must Be Measurable – Goals need parameters that can be measured.  This is how we’ll know how and when the goal will be reached.  A specific and measurable goal would be, “Johnny will say 10 nouns.”   Now we know how many and what type of words we’re working on.
  3. Goals Must Be Relevant And Attainable – Goals must focus on a skill that is meaningful to your child in their home or classroom setting.  You don’t want to spend valuable time working on skills that are not functional or beneficial.  An example of a relevant goal would be “Johnny will say 10 nouns to request things he likes to eat.”
  4. Goals Must Have A Time Limit – Goals must have an end date in mind in order to measure progress.  Having a time limit gives us the parameters for when we want to reach that goal.  In IFSPs (Individual Family Service Plans) and IEPs (Individualized Education Programs), goals are typically developed with the time frame of 1 year in mind.  An example of a goal with a time limit would be “By the end of the school year, Johnny will say 10 nouns to request things he likes to eat.”
  5. Goals Must Be In Writing – Goals must be written down.  When a goal is in writing, the details are clear and everyone is on the same page.

The next time your child has an IFSP or IEP meeting, take some time to think about what goals you would like to have for your child.  Your input is important and the professionals working with your child will appreciate your participation in the goal writing process.  Remember, you know your child better than anyone.  By thinking about these guidelines, you will be able to develop functional goals to help your child reach those important milestones and benchmarks.

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