Enhancing Social Integration with Friendship IEP Goals: Your Essential Guide


Friendships are fundamental to a student’s social and emotional development. This guide aims to assist educators in formulating Friendship IEP goals that enhance the abilities of students with special needs to forge and maintain meaningful social relationships.

Understanding the Importance of Friendship

Friendships contribute significantly to social learning, emotional support, and the overall well-being of students. They teach important social skills like sharing, empathy, and conflict resolution, and are especially critical for students with special needs, helping them feel more integrated and supported within their school community.

The Significance of Friendship in IEP Goals

Integrating specific friendship goals in an IEP helps students by providing structured objectives that enhance crucial social interactions. These goals focus on developing the skills necessary for initiating, maintaining, and nurturing relationships, which are essential for successful social integration.

Creating SMART Friendship IEP Goals

  • Specific: Clearly articulate goals that focus on various aspects of friendship, such as initiating conversations, responding to social invitations, or understanding social boundaries.
  • Measurable: Outline specific criteria to assess progress, like the number of successful interactions or the frequency of positive social exchanges.
  • Achievable: Ensure goals are attainable, considering the student’s current social skills and the social dynamics of their environment.
  • Relevant: Customize goals to meet the specific social challenges and opportunities the student encounters.
  • Time-bound: Set definitive timelines for achieving these goals to facilitate regular tracking and adjustments.

Friendship IEP Goals and Compliance

Friendship goals in the IEP should align with the student’s Present Levels of Academic Achievement and Functional Performance (PLAAFP) and adhere to compliance standards under laws like the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA).

  • Alignment with educational requirements: Goals must be designed to address the student’s social needs as identified through assessments.
  • Measurable and specific: Develop clear and observable benchmarks for each goal to effectively monitor progress.
  • Regular reviews and adjustments: Periodically reassess and refine goals to ensure they remain appropriate as the student’s skills and needs evolve.

Expanded Friendship IEP Goals Samples

  • Initiating Social Interactions
    • By (date), the student will initiate verbal interactions by asking peers open-ended questions in 4 out of 5 opportunities in various social settings such as the classroom or during recess.
  • Participating in Group Activities
    • By (date), the student will actively participate in group projects or team-based sports, contributing ideas or efforts in at least three different group activities each week.
  • Expressing Empathy and Support
    • By (date), the student will identify peers’ feelings and express verbal or non-verbal sympathy or encouragement (e.g., pat on the back, kind words) in response to peers’ emotions in 80% of observed instances.
  • Navigating Social Boundaries
    • By (date), the student will respect personal space by maintaining appropriate physical distances during conversations and activities in 90% of social interactions.
  • Resolving Conflicts
    • By (date), the student will apply conflict resolution strategies such as using “I” statements, compromising, or seeking adult mediation in 85% of observed disagreements.
  • Sustaining Friendships
    • By (date), the student will engage in activities to maintain friendships, like exchanging contact information, planning joint activities, or following up on friends’ important events or achievements in 9 out of 10 opportunities.

Elevate Your Team’s Approach to IEP Meetings

Our Transition Planning Rubric is designed to support district leaders and educators in guiding their teams towards excellence in transition planning. It provides comprehensive criteria that cover the breadth of transition planning, from gauging student engagement to evaluating post-secondary goals and services.

Why Use This Rubric?

  • Tailored Feedback: Utilize a structured scoring system to evaluate and enhance individual transition plans.
  • Fillable Format: Conveniently fill out the rubric digitally or print it for hands-on collaboration.
  • Action-Oriented Guidance: Benefit from a clearly defined path towards creating robust and legally compliant IEPs.
Expand your team’s capabilities and improve the success of IEP meetings.
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Strategies for Teaching Friendship Skills

  • Social Narratives: Develop stories that describe successful friendship scenarios and model positive interaction skills.
  • Structured Play: Organize structured play sessions where students can practice friendship skills under supervision and receive feedback.
  • Peer Mentoring: Assign peer mentors who can guide the student through social situations and model appropriate social behavior.
  • Recognition and Reinforcement: Recognize and reinforce positive social interactions with praise, privileges, or tangible rewards to encourage ongoing social effort.


Effective Friendship IEP goals are crucial for supporting students with special needs in their social development. By establishing comprehensive, SMART goals and employing strategic educational methods, educators can profoundly impact their students’ ability to form and sustain friendships. For additional resources or personalized support in crafting these goals, please reach out to our educational consultants.

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Jon Izak

Jon Izak is the founder and CEO of Ori Learning.

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Jon Izak
Jon Izak is the founder and CEO of Ori Learning.