Back to School: Setting Literacy Goals

Wow, it is back to school time!  I spent many years in early childhood education and the first day of school each year was always always filled with excitement and a bit of anxiety.

Before a new school year starts, it is helpful to set goals for your child.  Specifically, I’m going to talk about literacy goals.

This year, we have opted to do an at home preschool for my two boys (ages 3 and 4 1/2).  I believe that early childhood education should be play based and centered on the child’s interests.  I was unable to find this environment for my kids in our community so we decided to do it at home!  And, you get to benefit from lots of great ideas we will be sharing!

So, let’s talk about setting literacy goals.  This process can be used for other subject areas too.

This exercise is helpful whether you are homeschooling or your children will be attending a local school.  Teachers can even use this process with parents.

Create literacy goals for your child this school year with these helpful steps from Growing Book by Book.


Full Disclosure: This post contains affiliate links.


The first step in this process is to gather information from your kids.  We often think we know what our kids need, but there is great information to be learned by asking for their input.

I highly suggest that you do this step while little ones are keeping their hands busy with play dough or a puzzle.  We had our chat while the kids were playing with Lego.

Here is what you want to ask.

1.  What have you learned to do?

My 4 year-old said he knows all his letters and can write his name.  My 3 year-old said he knows some of his letters.

2. What would you like to learn to do?

My oldest son said he wants to read and write words.  My youngest son couldn’t think of anything!  Personalities really come into play here.

3.  What topics do you want to explore?  (Note:  You will use this information for planning activities to meet your goals.)

So, it looks like we will be exploring sharks, libraries, mines and pasta.all the topics are either things they really enjoy or things about which they have developed a strong curiosity. We visit the library every week and it is currently undergoing a renovation so there is a great interest in that topic.  Our house is experiencing mine subsidence so the kids have heard a lot of talk about mines and have seen lots of surveying going on in the neighborhood.

Expanding on your children’s interest makes learning more meaningful so make sure to ask the kids what they want to learn about often!


Make a list of areas of growth you have seen with your kids last year. Think about areas you would like their growth expand and jot those down as well.

Note where your children are developmentally and then ask yourself, what would be the most natural next step for them?


All kids develop on their own timeline.  However, it can be helpful to familiarize yourself with common early childhood standards and expectations.  Each state has their own guidelines but they are all pretty similar.  Again, use these as a guide.  But, use the information you gathered from above to truly guide your goal setting.

Yardsticks by Chip Wood is also a helpful book in understanding developmental needs at each age.


Time to set goals.  For literacy, I would suggest a reading, writing, speaking and listening goal.  You want each goal to have these components:

S = Specific
M = Measurable
A = Attainable
R = Realistic
T = Timely and Trackable

Here are two reading goals for my kids.

G will read (decode) easy reader books (level C) with 95% accuracy by June 2016.

N will identify all lowercase and uppercase letters with 100% accuracy by June 2016.

Once you have the goals, you can break each goal down into measurable objectives. Then comes the fun part.  Design activities that will help you reach each of those objectives.  You will find loads of ideas on Growing Book by Book including reading activities, writing activities and book lists.


Time to share the goals with your family.  Discuss the plan at a special family dinner.  Write the goals and hang them as a reminder of what you are working on this year.

If your children will be attending a local school, share the ideas you came up with the teachers.  Write a letter or ask for a conference to talk about your kids with each teacher.


Each month, you will want to assess the progress being made towards reaching the goals.  If a goal is reached sooner than later, you will want to set a new goal.

If progress isn’t being made it is time to assess what isn’t working.  Set up a conference with your child’s teacher if they are attending school.  Be proactive.


Don’t forget to celebrate all the hard work from time to time!

Our Playful Preschool Series returns this school year with a new name- Early Childhood Education Team.  Each week I will be sharing an early childhood literacy idea based on a theme.  Others on the team will be sharing wonderful ideas in all subject areas based on the same theme.  You can see our past themes on our Playful Preschool page and the line-up for the 2015-2016 year on our Early Childhood Themes page.

For more back to school ideas related to early childhood visit our #TeachECE  co-hosts posts.

Back to School Tips for Parents PLUS Visual Morning Chart! by The Preschool Toolbox Blog

Starting Kindergarten-Books and Activities by Capri + 3

Back to School: Starting Routines by Tiny Tots Adventures

Make Back to School Books to Ease the Transition by Fun-A-Day

4 Back to School Tips: Preparing for School by Learning 2 Walk

Preparing for Preschool: Creative Center in a Box by Powerful Mothering

How to Plan for Preschool at Home by Mom Inspired Life

Supporting preschool learning at home by Rainy Day Mum

Preparing Busy Boxes for Preschoolers by Munchkins and Moms

Traditional Preschool or Homeschool Preschool or Both? by Still Playing School

Preparing for School Brings Mixed Emotions for both Parents and Children by The Educators’ Spin On It

Preparing a Hands-On Preschool at Home by Life Over C’s

P.S. For more great literacy ideas, we send out a weekly newsletter. You can see a sample here.  If you like what you see, sign up to receive it for FREE each week.

About Jodie Rodriguez

Jodie Rodriguez is a mom of two young boys and an early childhood/elementary educator with over 18 years of experience. Jodie's passion is helping parents, teachers, librarians and anyone else interested in nurturing our youngest readers.


  1. Great tips! I homeschooled my daughter for her final year of pre-school and there was such excitement for both of us when we realized she had learned something new and saw the progression!

  2. Wonderful tips. This will be my second year homeschooling my preschooler. We loved the celebrating part and thanks to my keeping track of their progress I am able to better plan this year.

  3. I love the idea of asking your preschoolers what they want to learn about! I’m sure sharks would make our list, but probably not mines. Just goes to show how our environment makes a difference in what the children become interested in! I hope to take more field trips this year to expand their list of interests!

  4. Great tips! I love the idea of announcing the goal at a family dinner. We use dinners to talk about so many other good things, why not reading?

  5. Danielle says:

    Excellent advice! I really like that you asked the boys what they know and what they want to learn. That is a great idea! I am going to do that with my son this week. Thank you!

  6. Love this – it’s such great advice and even though we don’t homeschool I don’t know what the school year will be like for my 4 and a 1/2 year old entering the kinder equivalent in the UK so I think I will sit down with her and set our own goals to achieve by the end of the school year. I know she wants to read like her older brother which is a good start – lots of phonic, segmenting and blending coming up.

  7. We did home preschool all of last year and love working with early readers. I love the questions that you asked your kids and the way you are formulating your plans based on their interests.

  8. Love your tips, especially the first one about listening to your children. I wonder what my kids would say they would like to learn more about? Thanks Jodie.

  9. Great tips and ideas, Jodie! Thanks for sharing!

  10. This is a great set of tips!! Thanks!

  11. Oh, I just love this advice! I think it’s so important to take into account what the kids are interested in – and I love that ‘pasta’ is on that list!

  12. Jodie – great tips and advice for preparing for preschool. I love that you “share the plan” and “celebrate” successes! Welcome to a new school year! 🙂

  13. Love this! We always use SMART goals, and I adore this application of them. Sharing this…


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