Social Goals for Kindergarten (A Guide For Parents)

Children in kindergarten are developing self-awareness, social-awareness, social belonging and decision making.

Children will continue to develop these skills throughout life, but the foundation is built in kindergarten. 

These skills relate to how a child relates to themselves and how they relate to their peers. 

Parents and teachers should look for students to grow in each area and help children develop confidence interacting with peers and a positive self image. 

Social Goals for Kindergarten (What Are They?)

Most schools have developed a list of social emotional goals for their students.

These guidelines help parents and educators monitor the development of their children. 

As a general rule, 5 and 6 year olds in kindergarten should start to develop skills in the following areas:


Children should be able to:

Name several basic emotions and describe how they feel in their bodies

List likes and dislikes or interests

Recognize similarities and difference between themselves and their friends

Social Awareness and Belonging

Recognize emotions in another child or adult 

Use listening skills

Find ways to work and play well with others 

Express gratitude 

Share and take turns

Give compliments to peers

Decision Making

Express a problem 

Recognize that there is more than one way to solve a problem

Explain why acts that hurt others are wrong 

Make positive decisions when interacting with others 

You may notice that your child is struggling to express their emotions, but they are getting better each year. 

If your child seems to be missing several skills on the list, bring it up with your pediatrician.

They can offer resources to support your child’s social emotional growth. 

Examples of Social-Emotional Goals for Kindergarten 

Setting social-emotional goals is a great way to monitor your child’s social emotional growth. 

  • I can identify positive and negative emotions that I feel
  • I can take turns 
  • I can tell when my friends feel happy or sad
  • I can explain a problem to an adult 
  • I can tell when something is unkind or unfair 
  • I can ask for help when I need an adult 
  • I can talk about things I am good at
  • I can follow the rules
  • I can make safe choices 

Many states have social-emotional learning (SEL) guidelines that are organized by grade level.

You can find your state’s standards to help guide your goal setting. 

How do you set social goals?

Parents may choose to set social goals for their child at home or at school. 

Setting a goal will allow you and your family to focus on practicing and building one skill. 

Identify the Target Skill

What exactly are you looking to accomplish? 

Let’s talk about sharing. Writing a goal about sharing may look like:

I want Stephen to share more. 

This goal will be difficult to measure and you are unlikely to feel like you have achieved success. 

Stephen will get a sticker every time I observe him sharing, he will get 10 or more stickers a week. 

This is a great goal for the parent and student. Everyone knows what is expected and how it will be measured. 

Talk About the Goal

Be sure to talk about the goal and how you will meet it. Give your child ideas about how they can achieve the goal. 

This may include some education as well.

Children need vocabulary for their emotions and that language can come from books, videos or conversations. 

Choose a book or video that relates to the goal and go through it with your child.

Spend time talking and asking questions to practice social skills. 

Talk to the Pediatrician

It may be helpful to talk to your pediatrician about your concerns. 

They are familiar with normal child development and they may be able to provide some insight on what may be causing your child to struggle with their social emotional development. 

They may ask more questions or suggest a trip to a specialist to help support your child. 

Talk to the Teacher

There may be some behaviors that your child’s teacher has noticed that you may not see at home.

Reach out with a call or email and ask what they are noticing. 

School is an important place to develop those social emotional skills, so if you can support those school friendships with playdates or birthday parties it is worth it. 

Social Goals and IEPs

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

Individualized Education Plan or IEP goals are written in a specific way so that they can be monitored. 

An SEL IEP goal may be something like:

  • Robin will say “No” to a request when appropriate with 80% accuracy.  
  • Edin will discuss their own growth and improvement in reading each quarter. 
  • Kip will identify their anxiety and use a calming strategy at least 60% of the time. 

These goals are designed to be monitored and measured by school staff and they should clearly state what your child will do and how it will be monitored. 

These goals are important as you document their growth year after year and they help hold school staff accountable for supporting these goals. 

It is possible to include SEL goals in IEPs at any grade level and they should align with the state standards for SEL. 

How to Support Your Kindergartner’s Social Development

The best way to support your child’s social development is to create a safe open environment at home. 

These tips can help you create a nurturing emotional environment at home:

Talk About Feelings

Make talking about feelings a normal part of your family’s day. 

Ask questions about feelings too. When your child expresses frustration, encourage them to tell you exactly how it made them feel. 

Do not dismiss these emotions, just listen. 

Do not be afraid to express negative emotions as well as positive emotions. You may be very upset when something gets lost or broken. 

“I am so sad and angry that my mug got broken. That mug was important to me.”

Communicate with Respect

Always use respect in your communication at home. 

Respect means:

  • We do not talk over each other
  • We listen without trying to fix
  • We do not tell someone else how to feel
  • We respond with kindness even if we disagree

If respectful communication is a new skill for your family, find resources to practice. Practice makes progress. 

Read Books

Reading books is a great way to build empathy and build social emotional skills.

Books allow children to see themselves in another person as well as see into the world of someone entirely unlike them. 

Talk about what a character may be feeling or how a situation could be solved. 

There are so many benefits of reading together it is worthwhile to make it a daily practice. 

Reading may bring up some difficult conversations which can help you get some vocabulary for those big difficult feelings. 

Setting Social Goals for Kindergarten

Setting social goals in kindergarten can really support the social-emotional growth of your child and will allow you to see their growth year after year. 

Set goals that are in line with your child’s development and be sure to recognize the growth your child is making. 

Creating a nurturing environment at home is the best way to support your child’s social emotional development. 

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Social Goals for Kindergarten