Social Goals For First Graders (A Parent’s Guide)

First graders will start to understand their emotions in the present and how they may change in the future.

First grade students are developing social skills in the areas of; self-awareness, self-management, decision making and social-awareness. 

All of these skills will be developed as they learn to have healthy friendships with their peers. 

Social Goals For First Graders (A Parent’s Guide)

Social goals or social-emotional goals are a great way for parents and teachers to see the growth of your child over the year. 

Goal setting is also a great way to focus on a skill to practice.

Goal setting also allows caretakers to gather resources to support the child’s social emotional development. 

Your child is probably already pretty aware of their emotions and they may have learned to identify and describe them. 

Now they will move to understanding how their emotions change over time.

They can not only communicate their emotions but they can also understand that they will feel differently in the future. 

Your child will also be able to communicate goals for the future and imagine themselves in hypothetical situations. 

Examples of Social-Emotional Goals for First Grade


Describe strengths 

Identify skills they would like to improve in the futures

Recognize that emotions change 

Understand that situations impact my emotions


Express opinions

Set simple goals for my own behavior 

Recognize my body’s signals

Decision Making

Identify strategies to solve a problem 

Identify problems faced by students

Describe ways you are the same and different and the same as others 


Use listening skills to understand the emotions of others 

Show gratitude and explain why it is important

Give compliments 

How do you set social goals?

Parents and teachers can set social goals for students at home or at school.

These goals should state what the child will do, how they will be supported and how we will measure success. 

Setting a goal that focuses on one skill will allow all caretakers to focus on building up the student’s skills in one area. 

You can write your own social goals for your child based on their specific development. 

Identify What the Child Will Do

Make the goal very clear so that the child understands exactly what they are practicing.

I can accept my feelings as natural and name my feelings. 

I can describe how someone else may be feeling in my situation. 

I can identify ways to play well with others. 

I can use calming strategies when I am frustrated. 

I can ask adults for help when I need it. 

I can solve problems with my friends. 

Talk to your child about these goals.

Listen to any concerns that your child may have about doing these things and brainstorm together about how you can overcome these difficulties. 

Provide Support

Help your child to practice their new skill by providing plenty of opportunities to interact with peers in a safe, calm environment. 

Talk often about how your child is feeling about themselves and their friends. 

Talk often about your emotions and struggles with social growth as well. This will normalize talking about emotions and it will give your child vocabulary for their own feelings. 

Reward Success

When your child meets the goal, reward the behavior. A sticker chart or high five is enough of a reward just to be sure to mark the success. 

Expect progress not perfection.

Social Emotional Goals and IEPs 

Social-emotional goals are often part of an Individualized Education Plan created for a student with an identified disability. 

Social-emotional goals or SEL goals are written as measurable goals that can be tracked by all caretakers that work with the child. 

SEL goals should clearly state what the child will do, how it will be measured and what level of success is expected. 

Parents work with social workers, guidance counselors, special education and classroom teachers to create these goals for students. 

IEP goals may look like: 

Evan will describe multiple ways to solve a problem with 90% accuracy. 

Dan will show kindness when talking with peers with 70% accuracy. 

Hashim will set simple goals for themselves quarterly. 

These goals will be monitored by teachers and counselors and reviewed or changed at any IEP meeting. 

How to Support Your First Grader’s Social Development

The best way to support your child at home is to create an open and safe environment for expressing and experiencing emotions.

Communicate with Respect

Make respectful communication the norm in your home. You can do this by listening without interrupting and responding with kindness. 

Be respectful of the emotions of family members. Resist the urge to tell your child to get over it or calm down. 

Help them explain the emotions they are feeling and let them brainstorm ways to calm down for themselves. 

Spend Time Being Together

When you have time to be with your child, be sure that they have your full attention. 

Put down your phone and talk to each other or play a game. Engaged time will build self confidence as you communicate to your child that they are worth your time and attention. 

Read Together

Reading builds empathy. It is said that books can be mirrors or windows, a phrase coined by Dr. Rudine Sims Bishop.

This means that books allow children to see themselves in the characters that they are reading about and it allows them to see into the lives of others. 

This allows your children to see their lives and the lives of others with more depth. 

Serve Together

Spend time doing some traditional community service. This helps children see the world as bigger than just them. 

Use respect when talking about people you are serving and when you need help be sure to ask. 

Wrap Up: Setting Social Goals for First Graders

First grade is a great time to start setting social goals for your child. 

Their brains are becoming more capable of imagining the future and choosing goals that are meaningful to them. 

Be sure to set goals together and to revisit them frequently. 

Help your student build confidence by setting goals and documenting when they meet the goals by developing new skills. 

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Social Goals For First Graders