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Goals for Younger Children

Here are some suggested developmental goals for younger children.

Cognitive Goals

  • Visually follows object or person
  • Locate object or person that disappear
  • Use simple actions on toys (banging, shaking)
  • Activate cause and effect toys
  • Imitate actions
  • Imitate sounds or words
  • Solve simple problems
  • Use objects or toys in a pretend way
  • Group or sort objects in basis categories

Adaptive or Self-care Goals

  • Bite and chew soft and crisp foods
  • Bite and chew hard foods
  • Drink from cup or glass
  • Suck liquids through a straw
  • Eat with fork and spoon
  • Undress independently
  • Unfasten fasteners on clothes

Social Goals

  • Participate in “nursery games” with an adult
  • Initiate and maintain social play with adults
  • Initiate and maintain communication (using sound or words) with familiar adult
  • Initiate and maintain interactions with another child
  • Participate in familiar routines
  • Display affection toward familiar adult
  • Take turns during activities
  • Communicate personal likes and dislikes through verbal and non-verbal actions and choices
  • Separate comfortably from parents for routine activities (going to childcare or the babysitter)
  • Play with others as play partners
  • Play independently
  • Calm self when stressed or anxious
  • Transition smoothly between activities in the home or other settings

Gross Motor Goals

  • Roll from stomach to back and from back to stomach
  • Get into a sitting position and sit independently
  • Creep on hands and knees with tummy off the floor
  • Walk independently
  • Walk up and down stairs
  • Jump forward
  • Pedal and steer a tricycle
  • Kick, throw and roll a ball
  • Move up and down steps on a slide or play structure

Fine Motor Goals

  • Reach and grasp objects
  • Bring two objects together to bang
  • Transfer object from one hand to the other
  • Grasp small object with tip of the index finger and thumb
  • Release objects into containers
  • Stack same size objects
  • Use an index finger to activate objects
  • Imitate drawing lines on paper
  • Assemble toys or objects that require putting pieces together
  • Fit shapes into a shape sorter or puzzle
  • Turn paper pages of books one at a time
  • Use two hands to manipulate objects

Receptive Communication Goals

  • Turn and look towards person speaking
  • Respond to own name when called
  • Follow a person’s pointing gesture
  • Identify familiar objects or people
  • Identify pictures in familiar books
  • Identify pictures in unfamiliar books
  • Follow one-step directions
  • Follow two-step directions
  • Follow person’s gaze to establish joint attention
  • Listen to a simple story and pay attention
  • Anticipate events in a familiar story by vocalizing or demonstrating what happens next when asked by an adult

Expressive Communication Goals

  • Vocalize different consonant-vowel combinations
  • Use gestures to communicate
  • Use word approximations
  • Ask for help and gain and direct an adult’s attention
  • Use single words to communicate
  • Use two-word phrases or sentences


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