Easy Goal Setting Ideas for Your Child with Special Needs


The pandemic taught most of us many things. For example, one of the things that I learned about myself during the pandemic is that I need GOALs in my life. Although that may be a simple thing to many, it can be very challenging for some people. So, I want to provide you easy goal setting ideas for your child with special needs.

IEP Goal Setting Ideas

As a special education teacher, the most typical type of goal I see is the IEP goal. An IEP goal is something that the IEP team or Individualized Education Plan Team decides that a child with an IEP should work on within the year. 

Most of these goals occur within a year and can be different for each child. The great thing about IEP goals is that they are specific to that child’s academic, social, and physical needs. 

Progress reports are sent home every 4.5 weeks at my school to check how the child is doing with those goals. Most of these progress reports include a part stating if the child is: 

  • Successful with that skill
  • Emerging 
  • Working towards that skill
  • He hasn’t learned that information yet

As a parent, you will want to make sure that you keep watch on their goals to ensure that the goals aren’t:

  • Too difficult
  • Too easy
  • That they are working towards that goal. 

Most IEP goals are the same topic from grade to grade. For example, in most of the grades, comprehension of the material is going to be assessed. Therefore, the comprehension goals are a great way to track how your child reads and comprehends material each year. 

An example of a comprehension goal is that the student will read and comprehend a passage with 80% accuracy on 4 out of 5 attempts by (the annual review date). 

Most IEPs have several goals that students can work on throughout the year. Consider doing activities at home that help them achieve their IEP goals. 

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IEP Activity Ideas to do at Home

  • Create memory joggers to remember hard to learn topics
  • Play games that promote language and math skills
  • Count while brushing teeth and washing hands
  • Practice sharing and taking turns
  • Compare and contrast different things around the home
  • Read daily

Here is a list of songs you can download to teach a variety of topics. Which of these IEP goal setting ideas will you try first? 

Here are additional resources you will find helpful about IEPs:


Personal Goal Setting Ideas

Although I most often see IEP goals, you need to set personal goals with your children at home as well. Setting personal goals helps your child make decisions and define their own pathways to success. Goal-setting also helps them be more: 

  • Self-sufficient
  • Confident
  • Successful
  • Motivated 

Examples of Personal Goals

  • Learn how to ride a bike
  • Learning a new language
  • Being able to do 20 push-ups
  • Walking a mile in 8 minutes
  • Learning skills necessary to play a specific sport
  • Reading a book a week
  • Learning to play an instrument
  • Drinking 8 cups of water a day
  • Going to sleep or waking up by a specific time

As a teenager, I had a goal to read and finish all of a particular book series. Although it took some time, I enjoyed that series. I am currently even working with a student to read through that series now. 

As a special education teacher, I always make sure that my goals are:

  • Personalized
  • Measurable
  • Attainable within a year

Which of these personal goal setting ideas will your child be interested in? 

Family Goal Setting Ideas

Setting family goals are a great way to bring families closer together and promote positivity in the home. In addition, you and your child sharing a goal will allow you both to encourage each other through the process.


Examples of Fun Family Goals

  • Taking a family walk after dinner for at least 20 miles 
  • The whole family memorizing a book passage, quote, verse, or song together
  • Cook a new dish together weekly
  • Identify and discuss something significant that happened in their day
  • Helping others in need (such as a homeless or animal shelter)
  • Reading a book series together
  • Traveling to all the states in your country

Your family goal should be challenging but realistic – so make sure you think about what goal would be engaging for your whole family. So which of these family goal setting ideas will your family do first? 


Motivation to Achieve Goals

A goal is only good if you’ve got the motivation to go after it. This can sometimes be tricky with kids, but there are things you can do to help your child stay motivated. 

  • Set goals with a positive attitude
  • Have them create a dream board 
  • Never criticize or punish your child for goal-related mistakes
  • Always remaining supportive of the goal, no matter how big or small it might be
  • Put up a chart with milestones on the way to achieving the goal
  • Always give praise to them when they complete a goal.
  • Reward them for effort rather than completion
  • Be an example

Commitment & Accountability

Once your child has the motivation to go after their goal, they need to stay committed. To ensure they remain goal-oriented, assure them that you will stick by their side throughout the process and keep them accountable.

How to Keep Your Child Accountable

  • Always remind your child of the goal(s) they’ve set for themselves.
  • Ask your child about the steps they have taken to accomplish the goal
  • Offer support as they progress 
  • Have weekly discussions on their progress
  • Reward them for hitting milestones
  • Create small competitive sprints towards milestones


It’s never too early to teach our children goal-setting skills. By teaching goal setting ideas at a young age, we’re helping to cultivate goal orientation in the minds of our children for years to come. What goals is your child working on?


If you liked this article, please share it on Pinterest and Facebook. Join our Special Ed Parenting Facebook Community to connect with other parents of special needs children. 


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Mom and daughter looking at a goal checklist on the fridge they created from one of these Easy Goal Setting Ideas.
Here are easy goal setting ideas that are just what you need to help your special needs child set and achieve their goals at home and school.

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Taylor Fulcher

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