If you work as a school-based occupational therapist, you are probably no stranger to writing reports. One of the most important reports you create is the student’s individualized education program (IEP). The IEP goals guide the school-based team and are critical to the work you do with your students. Good goal writing helps you stay focused and may help your students reach their potential.
When creating IEP goals for students, one recommendation is to use the SMART acronym. This is a great way to ensure that you are creating a measurable goal that is centered around achievable and realistic actions. By providing these specific goals, both school-based team members as well as the student’s parents can be on the same page with clear, concise goals.
Using the acronym SMART, helps you structure your goals in an actionable and measurable way. It also provides a foundation to keep goal writing consistent between students. When writing a SMART goal consider the following:
When developing a goal for students, details matter. Vague or general terms in a goal plan are more difficult to measure. Consider including the specific subject or skill you are targeting, such as improving the total number of words written in an English assignment or reading a specific number of words per minute.
Measurable goals help determine if the student is progressing. Determining progress allows the school-based team to reassess the plan and change strategies if needed. Although there are various ways to measure progress; assessments, standardized tests, and observation in the classroom are some options.
Goals in a student’s IEP should be attainable. You don’t want to underestimate the child’s potential. You also don’t want to write a goal that is so difficult to achieve it is unrealistic. It is often motivating for students and their parents to see the child reach their goals. If you write an unrealistic goal, it can decrease confidence and motivation.
The goal should be something that is relevant to the student’s educational experience. That doesn’t mean every goal has to be a measurement of academics. Improving mobility, attention span, and social skills all play a role in a child’s school experience.
Set a timeframe for the goals you write. Goals will often be something that the student can achieve at the end of the school year. It’s also helpful to set some goals that have a shorter timeframe, such as the end of a semester or trimester. Achieving short-term goals can boost self-confidence and encourage students to work harder.
Report writing may never be your favorite part of the job as a school-based occupational therapist. But by using the acronym above, you can write SMART goals that help your students succeed.
Before Goal Setting
Before writing the goals for a student’s IEP, consider a few important factors. Having an idea of a child’s baseline is essential. If you don’t have a good understanding of how the child is performing academically, socially, and physically, you won’t be able to measure progress.
Consider the parent’s concerns for their child’s academic performance. Talk with parents to get their feedback. Parents often know their child best and can be a good asset.
It’s also helpful to review the goals for each student you are working with in-between IEP meetings. You may want to adjust your therapy techniques or strategies depending on the progress the student is making.
Importance of Goals of the Occupational Therapy Fieldwork
Setting goals for students is essential for occupational therapists. IEPs are developed in order to create a measurable goal(s) in order to meet the specific needs of each individual student in order to progress and succeed in school. When it comes time to measure the progress of a student, occupational therapists are able to determine how to adjust their plan accordingly. If the student has reached the pre-determined goals, their OT is able to create a new set of goals. If the student hasn’t reached their goals yet, their OT is able to adjust the current plan in order to meet the needs of the student.
Aside from determining how to adjust their approach, OTs are also able to communicate the progress with the rest of their team as well as the student’s parents in a clear and concise manner. By creating and implementing IEP goals, students benefit by receiving an individual plan that is focused on how to best help them achieve goals. This results in building skills, improving self-esteem and finding success in school.
Utilizing a school based occupational therapy goal bank is a beneficial resource, as it provides guidance and suggestions for OTs that are creating student’s IEP goals. These are not designed to serve as inclusive options, but rather suggestions in order to assist OTs when creating plans that align with an individual students’ IEP goals.
School Based Occupational Therapy Goal Examples and Objectives
Below are a few examples of school based occupational therapy goals as well as their corresponding objectives:
- Goal: By July 2020, during speaking and listening tasks the student will independently be able to open and close containers that hold art supplies. They will be able to open and close art supply containers 9 out of 10 trials in order to draw and/or visually display their knowledge and/or ideas.
Reflection: This example reflects the SMART acronym by defining a timeframe for the specific goal to be achieved. The goal is within attainable reason. Lastly, there is a benchmark measurement in order for the progress of the goal to be measured.
- Goal: By July 2020, student will be shown 10 various safety signs including: Do Not Enter, Don’t Walk, No Swimming, Wrong Way, Stop, Danger, Slow, Walk, Bus Stop, Mens, Womens of which the student will be able to understand the meaning by pointing to the corresponding picture, throughout 8 out of 10 trials.
Reflection: This example also reflects the SMART acronym by setting an attainable goal for the student over a specified length of time. The number of trails defines a measurable goal for the student as well.
- Goal: By July 2020, student will match up lowercase to uppercase letters by drawing a corresponding line to each. The student will successfully complete this activity 8 out of 10 times.
Reflection: This is another goal that reflects the SMART acronym. It’s important to take into considering the student’s education level in order to successfully identify a relevant goal.
- Goal: By July 2020, student will be given a piece of paper along with a crayon. They will independently hold the crayon and scribble up to 15 seconds. The student will successfully complete this goal 9 out of 10 times.
Reflection: This goal takes specific time, measurability, relevancy and attainability into consideration. Goals can and should be adjusted according to each specific student.
- Goal: Student will be given a toy as well as an action. They will be able to successfully demonstrate the action through the use of the toy. Student will successfully complete this goal 9 out of 10 times.
Reflection: Not only does this goal reflect the SMART acronym but also provides an intriguing and playful way for the student to engage with the activity.
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