5 Useful Social Skills Goals

social skills goals

Are you an SLP who writes social skills goals? These goals can be some of the trickiest goals to write! In an effort to help you out a bit, here are the goals I use. I hope these suggestions are helpful and useful!

Social skills goals aren’t easy to write. I remember starting out as an SLP and being stumped by social skills goals. Making goals specific, measurable, and big enough to track across a year…well, it wasn’t easy! Because of this, I’m sharing the goals I now use in this post.

Are my goals perfect? Not in the least. In fact, everyone writes social skills differently. Even so, I hope that by sharing the goals I use, you are able to more easily write your own social skills goals. I’m sharing the ones that work for me in this post. Take what you can use, and leave the rest. Please feel free to edit them as liberally as needed to suit your own lessons and style!

For each goal, I’ve used a fictional student name and suggested accuracy/cues, which you will need to update to your own liking.


5 Useful Social Skills Goals

social skills goals

Goal One: Improving Topic Maintenance

Audrey will improve her pragmatic language by accomplishing the following: a) identifying appropriate vs inappropriate behaviors/topics, b) initiating a conversation topic of her choice/another person’s choice c) taking 5 social turns on a topic of her choice and a topic of another person’s choice with 4 of 5 accuracy in structured activities, independently.

Goal Two: Identifying Expected Versus Unexpected Behaviors

Baker will identify appropriate versus inappropriate behaviors and topics with 4 out of 5 accuracy in structured activities with 2-3 clinician prompts (visual/verbal).

These terms are taught by the Social Thinking camp, you can find more information here.

You Tube is one of my favorite resources for examples for this goal. Make you you preview whatever videos you choose. There are plenty of comedy videos of people having huge reactions to small problems. In addition, Mr Bean is a great example of some pretty inappropriate behaviors, and since there isn’t dialogue, it can be easier for some of our learners to understand. You can also find some big toddler meltdowns and talk about the behaviors mentioned. Take your time discussing the videos and what the characters could have done differently.

Have fun with this! These videos are hilarious, so enjoy watching them. When you make learning fun, your learners will be more engaged.
Once you do examples for others (You Tube), then move to school scenarios and other real-life scenarios. For example I might ask a learner, “would be appropriate or inappropriate for for a student to go to the cafeteria and wait in line patiently for lunch?” or I could ask the client “would it be appropriate or inappropriate for a student to go to the library and sing at the top of their lungs?”

I would also demonstrate some appropriate versus inappropriate behaviors. When my learners can tell me what I’m doing wrong, they get to be in charge. This is highly motivating for my students!

Goal Three: Learning How Our Behaviors Impact Others

Camille will use a visual map to determine how behaviors impact other people, and explain how this may happen in 5 everyday situations, with 4 out of 5 accuracy in structured activities with 2-3 clinician visual/verbal prompts.

Using a visual can help students learn how their behavior impacts other people. You can draw a simple flow chart to highlight the following:

  • An action (like yelling at the library)
  • How that action impacts the thoughts of others (teachers, peers)
  • What will the action/thoughts make others think about you?

After doing this, it’s helpful to take the opposite action, and complete the map again. In this case, it would be a disucssion of what would happen if you came into the library quietly. How would that impact the thoughts of others? They’d be able to continue what they were doing. What would others think of YOU if you demonstrated that action? That you were respectful and on task.

Goal Four: Non Literal Language

Darcy will identify and interpret the meaning of idioms, metaphors, similes, or proverbs during structured activity with 80% accuracy independently over three consecutive sessions as measured by clinician data.

Figurative language, idioms and other non-literal tasks can be difficult to problem solve for some learners. This pragmatic language goal can help students better understand the language of their classroom and peers.

The book series Amelia Bedelia by Peggy Parish is a fun and hilarious way to focus on these. These books present a protagonist who repeatedly misunderstands context because she takes everything people say literally. This book is good for students in elementary and middle school to get introduced to the topic.

Goal Five: Ideas for Early Learners

These are several goals I’d use for early learners who are using total communication to increase play and receptive/expressive language skills:

Erin will select at least 4 pictures/words from a dynamic display AAC communication device (i.e. want, more, help, give me) in +5 daily routines in 3 of 4 opportunities, independently.

Fatima will functionally play in 3 new routines increasing start to finish time from 1-2 minutes to 4 minute functional play routine with 2-3 visual/verbal prompts.

Gregory will demonstrate joint attention (look/eye contact, reach or point, gesture, word/word approximation) during greetings (1-2 exchanges), and picking out toys (2 exchanges) as well as structured play (5 exchanges) with 3 visual/verbal prompts in structured activities.

Social Skills Goals – Now Make These Your Own!

I hope this post was helpful as you begin brainstorming your own social skills goals. As SLPs, we are all so different. What works for me may not work for you in your sessions. However, I hope this gives you a helpful starting place to begin thinking about your own goals.

As your students build their skills, you’ll be able to change these goals from structured settings to unstructured settings. They will also build more independence to use these skills in their daily life. For example, you may want to see your student use these skills at recess, lunch and on the bus or during group work time in class.

In order to make these goals your own, please feel free to change the accuracy and prompts to what works best for your learners.

What is your favorite social skills goal? I’d love to know more! You can find me on Instagram to connect! If you enjoyed this post, you may like reading some of my most popular posts, about writing goals for toddlers who are late talkers, Part 1 and Part 2.


Sarah Lockhart is a private practice owner in Ashland, Oregon. Her practice focuses on working with early learners, late talkers, and preteens/teens with Autism Spectrum Disorder.