You have probably heard the acronym “SMART Goals”
When a parent or therapist is creating goals for a child these goals should be child centred and wherever possible the child should be enabled to set their own goals.
In a school context an Individual Education Plans (IEP) is created by a team. In some instances the child will attend the meeting and will be able to contribute to the development of their education goals. Goals should always be meaningful to the child and should make a difference in their lives.
Goals must be functional and they must be measurable. O’Neill and Harris (1982) propose goals should include the following:
Will do what
Under what conditions
Applying this to an IEP:
Who – The student’s name
Will do what – For example will sit on the carpet for 20 minutes during circle time in the classroom.
Under what conditions – Sitting on a move n’ sit cushion, with access to fiddle toy of their choice with Learning Support Assistant (LSA) seated behind the child.
How well – Student will remain seated without verbal prompting in 9/ 10 instances
By When – by the end of the first month (or give dates).
Now we’ve set the goals..
It is very important when considering goals to take into consideration “So What?” What does achieving this goal mean for the child? What will this goal actually enable the child to be able to do? Is achieving this goal actually going to produce any meaningful change anything for the student?
In the above example: Our goal is for the child to be able to use sensory supports to enable them to participate in circle time in the classroom with their peers for 20 minutes at a time. Our “So what?” for this goal: This will enable the child to have access to the curriculum being taught at this time.
This allows the child to be with their peers in class (by reducing distracting behavior, or by reducing running from class or other applicable change).
This allows the child to be more independent by reducing reliance on the LSA to be with their class in a meaningful way.
This actively encourages the LSA to reduce their prompts to the child.
Enabling the student to self select or manage a sensory tool can be included in a separate goal in their IEP if relevant.
O’Neill DL, Harris SR. Developing goals and objectives for handicapped children. Phys Ther.1982 ;62:295–298.