What are Language IEP Goals for Preschool?

preschool speech and language

So here’s the doozy! Speech and language is a huge focus in our young and developing preschoolers. Whether they are just developing correct speech sounds or are learning how to communicate effectively or even if they are learning self-regulation and emotions identification, many goals for speech and language can address these!

These goals here are simply ideas for speech and language goals, as I am not a speech and language pathologist. You should ALWAYS consult with a qualified SLP on your team, and goals for this domain should come from them. I have found that many of these goals are particularly helpful for preschoolers with autism, and I enjoy collaborating with my SLPs to create beneficial, measurable, and effective goals for our littles! We work as a team!

This list (if you look at my resource) may be the longest on my list, but it is NOT an exhaustive list of speech and language goals. There is so much more to that domain, but it may give you some fresh ideas and are goals I have used the most over the years.

IEP Goals for Preschool

One important note (before sharing some ideas) is to remember that IEP stands for INDIVIDUALIZED Education Plan. This means that getting ideas as a jumping point is great, just remember to ALWAYS work it like playdough to fit your actual student! Massage the heck out of it until it’s the right shape! Check out this BLOG on how to write a great IEP goal or this one on how to write the Progress Report

The following are some ideas for Speech and Language goals for preschoolers and Kindergarten students. 

Do you struggle with the time-consuming task of writing IEP goals for your Preschool Special Education students? Or finding the correct wording to create specific, meaningful goals to meet the needs of your early intervention and Pre-K students? This resource is perfect for busy teachers looking to save time and simplify the task of writing IEP goals.

“This is one of the best purchases I've made! Great goals, user friendly, so helpful for teacher writing goals for IEP. If you need examples to get you started, this is amazing!”

Requesting Goals

Requesting is generally the very first thing that we want to work on for any learner. Giving them functional words to use to get their wants and needs met can be priceless. It will help reduce challenging behavior and increase opportunities to learn. 

The key is to find what you think your student wants, pair yourself with that preferred item or activity, encourage and reinforce attempts to communicate for it, and provide it whenever possible! You don’t want to withhold something in an attempt to elicit language so much as to create a lot of frustration or aversion behaviors, but holding back just a little and being ready to reinforce at any shaped communication for it is the key.

Think long-term, too. Providing them a way to say what they want in a socially-responsive way is going to help them today, tomorrow, and onward!

Goals here may include visual communication (e.g., core boards, AACs, sentence strips), requesting reinforcers, requesting missing items, requesting with yes and no, requesting help, requesting attention, requesting cessation (stopping something they don’t want anymore), requesting with more language words (e.g., pronouns, adjectives, adverbs, prepositions), and requesting using wh- questions. 

Here is a sample IEP goal to target requesting:

Requests attention

When given an opportunity (natural or contrived) to ask others to attend to their actions, STUDENT will request attention by moving within 5 feet, saying the partner’s name, waiting for the partner to look, and saying, “Watch this!” (or something similar) improving requesting from BASELINE to 3 or more requests per day on three consecutive data days as measured by staff observation, daily tasks, and data records.

These are social emotional learning activities for preschoolers that work on using their words to get their wants and needs met! Addressing the 4 main functions of behavior (access, attention, escape, sensory).

This simple activity teaches a student, using audio and Boardmaker™ icons, how to request when asked “What do you want?” 

Receptive Language Goals

Receptive language (what someone understands) often develops earlier and/or faster than expressive language (what someone can communicate). Of course there are exceptions, but, in general, working on receptive language as one of your earliest set of goals is a great way to go. These goals may include responding to name, following simple to more complex directions, following routine directions, identifying body parts, clothing, nouns, verbs, and so on, feature, function, and class of items, quantifiable language like “all,” “some,” and “none,” same and different, receptive emotions in pictures and in real life, and identifying social scenarios.

Here is a sample IEP goal for receptive language:

Receptive associated pictures

When given an array of three pictures of items and given a related picture of one of them and asked, “What goes with this?”, STUDENT will select the item which is used with the item (e.g., a bat when shown a ball) improving receptive associated pictures from BASELINE to at least 2 related pictures for 20 or more items across 5 consecutive data days as measured by staff observation, daily tasks, and data records.

receptive language goals

These “What goes together” activities are great for receptive language tasks working on word pairs and word relationships.

And here is a set of activities for receptive nouns.

Labeling Goals

And here we are talking about what the student is communicating / expressing. This could be through verbal language, sign language, AAC, gestures, anything. What the student is *saying* in their way of communicating. 

Goals here may include labeling pictures of nouns, verbs, and so on, features, functions, and class of items, labeling with more words, with correct syntax and language organization, labeling with “extra” words like adverbs and adjective, conjunctions, and articles, labeling emotions and states of being as well as social interactions. 

Here is a sample IEP goal to target Labeling:

labeling pictures

Labels pictures

When given a picture of a common item and asked, “What’s this?”, STUDENT will name the item improving labeling from BASELINE to at least 100 items across 5 categories including novel examples across five data collection days as measured by staff observation, daily tasks and data records.

Looking for easy-to-assemble printable flashcards? These labeling / tacting cards include the most common nouns, using cute and simple clipart so that they print beautifully.

This is label pictures of common items, broken down into sets of 10 up to 50 pictures of objects. Categories included are animals, food, furniture, clothing, vehicles, and toys. 

Vocal Imitation

These are great goals to get students working on developing their intelligibility. The better they are understood by their adults and peers, the more they can get their needs met and socially interact with their environment. 

Goals may include imitating isolated sounds, imitating blends, single words, short phrases, numbers, sentences, and repeating a phrase to another person.

Here is a sample IEP goal for Vocal Imitation:

CVC imitation

When given the verbal directive, “Say ___” and a consonant-vowel-consonant combination (e.g., mom, pop, pig, cat), STUDENT will repeat the word correctly (all sounds correct) improving vocal imitation from BASELINE to repeating at least 12 CVC words without breaks between the sounds in 4 out of 5 opportunities on three data days as measured by staff observation, daily tasks, and data records.

Here is a resource for vocal imitation of CVC words. Cute pictures with limited distractions, good for autism, SpEd, and early childhood education students.

Intraverbal Goals

An intraverbal is a technical ABA term, but it just means any verbal behavior that is in response to another person’s verbal behavior (e.g. wh- questions, holding a conversation). Intraverbal behavior is the most complex verbal behavior to teach, but also so so important. It is the majority of our communication. We say something in response to someone else saying something. It’s a more advanced skill, but there ARE simple intraverbals you can teach to early learners.

Some goals might include fill in words from familiar songs and nursery rhymes, fill ins for fun activities, animal sounds, personal questions, responding to feature, function, class fill ins and questions, answering wh- questions, describing steps in an activity, making related statements, answering with yes and no, tells a store, and participates in a conversation.

Here is a sample Intraverbal IEP goal:

animal sounds preschool

Animal Sounds

When given the name of an animal or an animal sound, STUDENT will provide the corresponding animal or sound improving intraverbals from BASELINE to 8 animal sounds given the name and 8 animals when given the sound across 3 data collection days as measured by staff observation, daily tasks, and data records.

Here is a set of visuals and digital and print resources to help target the intraverbals for animal sounds.

Remember! This is not an exhaustive list but just some ideas to get you going! Trying to make teachers’ and clinicians’ lives a little easier because coming up with fresh ideas can be hard! 

This is a set of IEP goals WITH instructions and broken down into editable objectives for the domain of LANGUAGE. Other domains also available (Adaptive, BehaviorCognitive, Social Emotional). Includes bonus daily raw data collection forms.

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Hi! I'm Audra!

I am a special education teacher, behavior analyst, and parent to an autistic adult. I love sharing the insights and resources I have gleaned over the past 25 years. Thanks for being here!

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