Speech Goals & How to Meet Them
If you’ve been given a speech and language evaluation or progress report lately, you may have seen goals for your child’s speech and/or language therapy. These therapy targets are meaningful statements, written in a specific way that guide speech and/or language treatment. Below is your complete guide to speech and language goals including: what they are, why we write them, where they come from, and how to meet them.
Answers to our most-asked speech goals questions:
What are speech goals?
Speech goals are specific targets for the child’s speech and/or language skills during treatment.
Where do they come from?
Speech therapy goals are created from a variety of factors including: parent/caregiver concerns, formal and informal testing results, and the speech-language pathologist's (SLP's) expertise.
Why do SLPs write goals?
We write speech and language goals to document objectives in therapy. Goals are unique to each child and are meant to be transferrable between therapists if needed. Just as a teacher leaves their notes to substitute teachers, we SLPs leave notes for both other SLPs and professionals. If other professionals are on the child’s support team (think teachers, OT, PT, reading support), parents often share our reports with them, too! In doing so, everyone knows exactly what we’re working on in speech!
where can I find them?
In our evaluation and progress reports, you’ll find your child’s speech and language goals at the end of the report under the “recommendations” heading. If your child is receiving speech therapy in school or through another organization, check the latest report you’ve received, and ask your child’s SLP if you have any trouble finding them.
How are goals targeted?
Goals are targeted using different methods depending on the area of the goal, research-based evidence, caregiver input, SLP experience, and the unique needs of the child.With toddlers, it may be completely play-based. With speech sound production in older children, therapy may include more drilling during game time. Talk with your SLP to see how they'll uniquely target each of your child's goals!
When are speech goals considered “met”?
Yay! Your child is on their way to meeting their speech goals. If you read the written goal, an accuracy level will be provided and will let you know exactly when a goal is considered "met" or "mastered". See our goal examples below for common criteria levels used to mark "meeting" a goal!
Now that you’ve learned where goals come from, why we write them, and where to find them, let's go over a few examples. Below we’ll provide a few common speech therapy goals you might find in your child’s evaluation or progress report. If your child's goals don’t look exactly like the examples, that's ok too. Speech and language goals cover a variety of areas and should be unique to each child.
Examples of common speech and language goals:
Speech Sound Goal: (Child's name) will produce /s/ in all positions of the word at the sentence level with 90% accuracy, independently.
Language Goal: (Child's name) will use the regular past tense (e.g. "-ed") and the irregular past tense (e.g. "ran") at the conversational level with 90% accuracy given an expectant look and/or extended wait time.
Pragmatic Goal: (Child's name) will participate in conversations of preferred interests, using at least three turns in 4 out of 5 opportunities, when given a visual cue (e.g. conversation train visual).
A note on language:
At Speech SF, we use “approachable” goals and language over “avoidance”. Avoidance goals and language revolve around diminishing a certain behavior or trying not to fail. We’d rather reframe this and encourage the child to work toward a positive outcome (i.e. approachable goals). Approachable goals and language are positive and reflect working toward gaining new skills. An example we use in our language during speech therapy sessions is labeling “new” and “old” sounds, instead of “good” or “bad”. Our goal in using this language is to increase the child’s confidence in their speech skills and to create a positive, encouraging therapy experience.
Speech Sound Production Hierarchy Example:
Sound by itself
In all positions of a word
While reading aloud** (if reading)
When answering questions
In conversation with the SLP
Carryover: Sound in all positions in conversation with a variety of conversation partners and settings
Cuing Hierarchy Example:
Coarticulation: saying it together
Imitation: saying it after a model
Verbal and visual cues
Extended wait with/without expectant look
You've learned all about speech goals! We hope this information is helpful when reviewing speech and language report goals. Looking for an explanation of speech and language evaluation, progress, and exit reports? We've got you covered.