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Goals for Older Children

Here are some suggested developmental goals for older children.

Cognitive Goals

  • Sort objects, people or events on the basis categories
  • Understand the concept of “one”
  • Look at a simple picture book from beginning to end with an adult
  • Listen to entire story while an adult reads it
  • Identify pairs of common opposites (big/little, loud/soft, etc.)
  • Identify colors
  • Identify shapes
  • Identify quantitative concepts (full, empty, more, none, less, etc.)
  • Identify spatial concepts (on, under, over, behind, in front of, next to, in, out, middle, down, etc.)
  • Identify time related concepts (before, after, first this, then that, morning, afternoon, night, then, now, etc.)
  • Identify boys and girls accurately
  • Retell events that occurred a day or more ago
  • Engage in cooperative, imaginary play
  • Engage in games with rules and maintain participation until completion
  • Recite numbers from 1-10
  • Count 10 objects
  • Recognize words that do and do not rhyme, and fill in missing words in rhymes
  • Make statements and appropriately answer questions that require reasoning about objects, situations or people

Adaptive or Self-care Goals

  • Unfasten fasteners on clothes: zippers, Velcro, snaps and buttons
  • Dress self independently
  • Fasten fasteners on clothes: Velcro, snaps and buttons
  • Initiate toileting and remain dry all day
  • Use toilets in new places outside of the home
  • Brush teeth independently
  • Wash and dry hands
  • Pour from one container to another without spilling
  • Prepare and serve food by helping an adult
  • Wipe nose with a tissue
  • Brush or comb hair

Social Goals

  • Separate comfortably from parents for routine activities (going to childcare or the babysitter)
  • Interact with other children doing an activity together or playing a game
  • Initiate and maintain cooperative activities with other children
  • Resolve conflicts by using different strategies
  • Participate in age appropriate activities for at least 10 minutes
  • Follow established rules outside familiar settings
  • Initiate and complete age-appropriate activities independently
  • Watch, listen and participate during small group activities
  • Watch, listen and participate during large group activities
  • Transition smoothly between activities in the home, childcare or preschool and in other community settings
  • Calm self when stressed or anxious using appropriate strategies
  • Identify emotions of others
  • Recognize and avoid common dangers
  • Cope with conflict in positive ways
  • Accept changes in routines without resistance
  • Maintain personal boundaries with other children and adults
  • Use strategies to solve conflicts with other children
  • Give identifying information about self and others when asked

Gross Motor Goals

  • Move up and down stairs on a slide or play structure
  • Run on uneven surfaces

Fine Motor Goals

  • Interact with different types of sensory materials (play dough, cornmeal, rice, pudding, water, etc.)
  • Use different tools with sensory materials (cookie cutters, rolling pin, plastic knives, pizza cutter, scissors and drawing utensils, etc.)
  • Copy simple shapes
  • Cut out different shapes with curved lines

Receptive Communication Goals

  • Demonstrate an understanding of descriptive concepts (big, little, hot, etc.)
  • Follow two-step directions
  • Identify colors
  • Identify shape
  • Follow three-step directions
  • Identify qualitative concepts (rough, soft, hard, hot, cold, wet, big, little, small, large, etc.)
  • Identify quantitative concepts (full, empty, more, none, less, etc.)
  • Identify spatial concepts (on, under, over, behind, in front of, next to, in, out, middle, down, etc.)
  • Identify time-related concepts (before, after, first this, then this, morning, afternoon, night, then, now, etc.)
  • Identify boys and girls accurately

Expressive Communication Goals

  • Use 50 single words to communicate
  • Use two-word phrases or sentences
  • Use 3-, 4- or 5-word phrases or sentences
  • Alternate between the speaker and listener role
  • Respond to topic changes initiated by others
  • Answer different types of questions appropriately
  • Answer questions about a story that was just read
  • Ask different types of questions
  • Use verb tenses (present progressive, regular past tense, “to be” verbs)
  • Use possessives (Daddy’s, Mommy’s, boy’s, baby’s)
  • Use regular plural nouns (dogs, cats, shoes, balls, glasses, etc).
  • Use different types of pronouns (his, her, she, he, theirs, some, etc.)
  • Use appropriate rate, body orientation and eye contact when speaking to others
  • Use appropriate volume when speaking to others
  • Articulate words and sounds clearly


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