Setting Kindergarten Goals the Easy Way

There is extreme value in teaching kindergarten students what you expect them to learn. Teaching expectations for procedures and behavior is a given since our students are so new… but I think sometimes we forget that they need goals for academics too.

Say what? {You’re kidding right}

Setting up expectations and goals look totally different from what you see in other grade levels. It may look different than what your principal may imagine or what your college professor would desire to see on a 7 page lesson plan {that you’ve never, ever used}.

KindergartenWorks - kindergarten learning skills {on display}

I think posting goals should meet these characteristics to be effective for kindergarten:

  • be visible {not hidden away or inaccessible – should be available for reading the room}
  • be for the students {not for the administrators}
  • include visuals for non-readers {which is pretty much every single student at the beginning of the year}
  • be edifying of those who attempt and accomplish posted goals

Here’s how I did it – and you can easily do this too.

To make this happen,  I set up posters in my classroom.

KindergartenWorks - kindergarten learning skills {on display}

I talk about each one before it gets hung up. They help hang them up… hence the interesting tape job in the picture.

{Anyone else realize in college we’d have to teach someone how to use a tape dispenser? It’s an art, I tell you!}

We refer to them as moments come up to edify the work students are doing towards those goals. We celebrate (first big time, then more in natural praise as time wears on) when someone gets their name added for mastering the skill. We celebrate when we can take down a poster and replace it with a harder skill.

…I guess I could create a book with the old posters, but I didn’t think of that until now. They would love that to pour over in the library center.

KindergartenWorks - kindergarten learning skills {on display}

For best results, I blow these up onto 11×17 construction paper and allow kinders to “sign” their names once they’ve mastered the appropriate skill. They love to get the positive recognition and then can be go-to helpers if someone else needs a bit more practice.

Gotta love having some expert shoe-tiers. {Can I get an “amen” from any other K teachers?!} Or kids who can already zip coats and can help make that happen for others in the two minutes I give them to get ready for lunch and recess.

What other academic things or skills do I edify? Most of these listed below are K skills and a few are straight up Common Core standards.

  • name letters of the alphabet
  • say the sound of each letter
  • write first name
  • write last name
  • count 20 objects
  • show excellent lunch behavior
  • write to 10
  • write to 20
  • write to 50
  • write to 100
  • count to 60
  • count to 100
  • tie shoes
  • zip coat
  • phone number
  • address {oh this one seems old school now}
  • count by tens
  • count by fives
  • start writing with an uppercase letter
  • name punctuation
  • write a sentence
  • sight words

I’ve totally put all of these into an easy printable for you. Grab yours now and put up the posters you want to work on tomorrow.

KindergartenWorks - kindergarten learning skills {on display}

Get the I Can! Skill Posters

I also love using these to keep track all year long for report card purposes. At a glance, I can fill out who still needs to practice those skills that perhaps I don’t assess on a regular basis.

It sure isn’t your mother’s kindergarten anymore… nor even mine {and I totally don’t think I’m that old} but setting goals really works for us.

Your turn! Tell me what I’m missing and need to add to my list.

If you like what I do here on KindergartenWorks, then be sure to subscribe today. I look forward to sharing ideas with you weekly.

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Setting Goals in Kindergarten the Easy Way

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  1. Hi there, any chance you could put out one that it editable….I have a variety of ages in my room and feel some need simpler goals to get into the groove!

  2. Can you give any advice on what order you do them in or how many you start with at the beginning of the year?

    1. Hi Tori, I like to divide mine up by quarters to match our quarterly standards and sprinkle in the self-help/fine motor ones as I’d like them to be working on things.
      I’d recommend starting with:
      – Naming Letters of the Alphabet
      – Writing First Name
      – Showing Excellent Lunch Behavior
      – Writing to 10
      – Counting to 60
      – Reading 10 Sight Words

      And then I’d move up each skill a level and add in shoes and coats for the next quarter because I want that nailed down before the snow hits 😉
      – Leslie

  3. You’re so amazing! When it comes to functional, procedural, better-teacher kind of things, you really are the best I’ve found! Thanks so much!

  4. I plan to try this, too. Leslie, I like your blog very much. I am astounded at your energy! You teach kindergarten and have time to do this great blog! I usually drag myself into my house at the end of the day and flop down beside my cat!

    I was wondering how you assess when kids are able to write their names on the goal sheet. Do you assess one-one, in a group? Is it formal/informal? Thanks again for so many good ideas.


    1. Janice, you made me laugh. I enjoy many a nights flopping beside my cat too – although he will make himself known and sit across my wrists at the keyboard if I spend a little too much time after school at the computer. {wink} The honest answer is that I assess all the time and whenever I can. Sometimes I feel that is all I’m doing, but I try to do as much assessment built into what we do on a regular basis. This helps me track progress and make immediate changes when needed. The last time I wrote about it is here: and it still rings true. Hope it helps!

      – Leslie

  5. I love your blog!! This coming school year, is my first year teaching and it will be in kindergarten! Thanks so much for all the tips!

  6. I know my classmates’ names! I know the apology recipe! I left a heart print on the __________ (fill in with the place the class is working on being more helpful or friendly like the lunchroom, playground, bathroom, etc.)

  7. I would love it if yiu would share what you do with the kids who never master the skill. I teach at a high risk school and some kids don’t make it even after lots of intervention. How do you keep them from getting discouraged when others are reaching their goals?

    1. Hi Anjanette,
      There are some kiddos who really struggle to get the public recognition. We definitely let them revel in their moment when they sign their name on the “zip my coat” poster when winter rolls around. 😉 The entire class usually gets their name on 1-2 posters (coat/first name). I’ve just always kept encouraging them to let them know I believe they can do it and let them know they are taking right steps when we are practicing stuff that is difficult in small groups… that is highly motivating for some!
      – Leslie

  8. I agree with Rachel. I would love to have one for counts to 25, 50, and 75. Writes name, and identifies letters. These are great!

  9. I love these posters. I would love to know what font makes the outlined in colors or how you did them. I am new to creating and want to get started. I need one for buttoning.

  10. I sooo agree with you! Kinder is 1st and with the shoe tying. I put a time limit on the shoe tying by telling them, “You will have to know how to tie your shoes by (insert date Lent begins) because I give that up for Lent.”

  11. I agree Kindergarten is first grade. I believe that the students are missing some valuable skills because they are forced to grow up to quickly. Social skills are very important. Students learn from playing.

  12. I would love to see an “I can count to 20” and “I can count to 50” options! How about I know all my ABCs? All about the stepping stones . . . 🙂

  13. You had me with your first line. I don’t think my principal or some of the parents realize just how much Kindergarten is the “new first grade!” Also, I LOVE expert shoe-tiers! Anything it takes for me not to have to tie a shoe is a + in my book!

  14. Thanks for the freebie. I make posters with some of these skills at the end of the year, I call them end of the year challenges” and my students love to sign them! I also give a small prize.

  15. These are great. Thank you for sharing. I always like to praise the kiddos when they “learn” a new task and it sooooo helps the others want to do it also!

  16. love it, I make a shoe tying club chart for those of my kiddos that learn how to tie shoes, never thouht to make other ones.

  17. I used these posters last school year with my class – maybe I bought them from TPT. Anyhow, these were a huge motivator for my kiddos to be able to do each of these things! Love them!!!!!!

  18. This is a great idea!! My students will love seeing their name on these “I Can” posters! Thanks!

  19. Love this idea. I also have wanted to tell you that I absolutely love how you have “branded” all of your items by using the same format ond font on every cover. I have been trying to do that as well…not so much luck. Keep up the awesome work. Your blog is one of my go-to blogs!
    Mrs.Miner’s Monkey Business

  20. What I wouldn’t give for an expert shoe-tier!! Unfortunately we’re all a little lazy when it comes to tying shoes here in Hawaii – we really don’t where shoes that tie too often….except to school it seems! Especially Kinders who are the oldest child and mom wants them all spiffy for school. I usually only have 3 or 4 tie shoes in the room a day, but I am tying the ALL day because we pretty much have our shoes off all day (it’s a local thing) so they have to get put back on AND TIED at least 5 times a day. Maybe I need to get a practice shoe for them to learn on:)

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