Social Emotional IEP Goals for Middle School

Instructor: Abigail Cook
Middle school is a hard time of life for any adolescent to navigate, especially those with disabilities. Having friends and feeling part of a group helps students be happier and more self-confident. Teachers and parents can help their students acquire appropriate social skills by including social and emotional goals in the IEP.

Disabilities in Middle School

Students between the ages of three and twenty-one can qualify for special education services under thirteen different disability categories according to the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). Whether a student has autism, an intellectual disability, learning disability, or emotional disturbance, they may lack the social and emotional skills to fit in with their peers. Depending on the student and their disability, the challenges some students face go beyond academics. Behavior, emotional health, and social skills are often influenced when a student struggles to do well in school. When a student on an Individualized Education Plan (IEP) needs improvement in these other areas, the IEP team can set goals that relate directly to improving behavior and social skills.

Once students with disabilities reach adolescence, interaction with peers often becomes a big concern. You may notice that your students with disabilities are bullied, feel isolated, and engage in violence and aggression because they do not understand the complex social rules of middle school. When this is the case, it is helpful to set specific goals on the IEP to help students acquire some of the social skills needed to make friends.

Social Emotional IEP Goals

The examples included in this section are written for a seventh grader named Bella. The main objective for these goals is to help Bella interact appropriately with her peers. Appropriate interactions include having a conversation, recognizing appropriate social cues, and initiating interactions. A real IEP would not include all of these objectives at once, but a variety of examples are listed here to give you some ideas of what to work on with your own students.

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