In this post you will learn about executive functioning IEP goals and strategies to help achieve those goals.

An IEP is more than just a written legal document (or “plan”). It’s a map that lays out the program of special education instruction, supports, and services kids need to make progress and thrive in school.

IEPs are covered by special education law, or the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act (IDEA). They’re created for eligible kids who attend public school, which includes charter schools.

IEP, or Individualized Education Program, is a U.S. plan created with consideration for students with executive functioning disabilities to ensure that they receive adequate education that accommodates any challenges they face in their daily life or studies. Goals, called executive functioning goals, are created to address these difficulties.

Understanding what executive functioning disabilities are, how they impact daily life, and the efforts made toward minimizing the said impacts is the best way to help. Read on to learn more!

What is Executive Functioning?

Look at executive functioning as the brain’s CEO that manages and directs all our daily mental processes. Put simply, they’re a set of mental processes that help us plan, organize, and remember information to navigate our lives effectively and achieve our goals. You can read more about it here.

The Importance of Executive Functioning

The mental processes labeled “executive functioning” play a critical role in helping us adjust our behaviors to navigate complex tasks and social situations. They allow us to succeed in school through planning, focusing, and studying. They also help us manage our finances and maintain healthy relationships.

While some individuals may have normal or excellent executive functioning skills, people with disabilities may struggle with functional skills, such as planning and organizing, and experience difficulties in academic and social situations. To overcome these challenges, they need special education catered to their needs, which brings us to IEPs.

What Are IEPs?

IEPs outline the specific needs of an individual struggling with executive functioning processes and the accommodations and services they need to achieve their educational goals. They’re created in collaboration with parents and field professionals after evaluating the individual’s performances to develop goals and objectives that meet their unique needs.

Understanding Executive Functioning IEP Goals

Executive functioning IEP goals are objectives designed to enhance an individual’s executive functioning skills, which can be broad or limited. For example, an individual may only need help with their planning or time management skills, while another may struggle with several executive functions.

Executive functioning skills can be grouped into different categories to help IEP goal creators target precise areas an individual is lacking. These categories include, but aren’t limited to: 

  • Planning
  • Organizing
  • Time Management
  • Task Initiation
  • Problem-Solving
  • Impulse Control
  • Cognitive Flexibility

Let’s give you some IEP goal examples for some of these categories.


  • To organize their belongings and meet assignment deadlines’ better, the student will learn how to efficiently use a combination of organizational systems, including folders and planners, by the end of the term.
  • To enhance their ability to prioritize and plan tasks to meet deadlines, the student will learn how to break down large tasks into smaller, more manageable assignments and prioritize them based on importance by the end of the term.

Time Management

  • To complete tasks on time, the student will learn how to properly estimate the time needed to accomplish a task and create and follow an appropriate schedule by the end of the term.
  • To improve their ability to manage time better, the student will learn how to efficiently use several time-management strategies, including setting priorities, breaking down large tasks, and using reminders by the term’s end.


  • To improve the student’s number of independently-initiated tasks, they’ll learn how to reflect on their task initiation skills, find strategies that best meet their style, and employ them in future assignments by the end of the term.
  • By the end of the term, the student will learn how to initiate a specific number of tasks independently, without procrastination or prompting from adults, and demonstrate this skill with 80% accuracy as measured by the supervising teacher and data logs.
  • You can learn more about task initiation here and strategies to help.

executive functioning IEP goals

How Are Executive Functioning Goals Determined and Developed?

The process of determining and developing EF goals is straightforward. First, an individual’s current level of EF skills is assessed through a series of examinations, including questionnaires, standardized tests, self-reports, interviews with relevant individuals, etc.

Once the assessment is finished, relevant professionals can identify executive functioning skills that the individual is lacking and then develop appropriate goals to enhance them.

What Strategies Can Help Achieve Executive Functioning IEP Goals?

There are many strategies to help make the process of achieving EF IEP goals faster. However, keep in mind that the goals and needs of each student affect the effectiveness of these strategies.

  • Break Tasks Down: Complex tasks can be overwhelming, so breaking them into smaller, easily-achievable steps can make them feel less daunting. It’ll also help students develop planning skills.
  • Use Multi-Sensory Learning Techniques: Using, for example, visual aids and movement activities can engage multiple senses and can help memory and learning.
  • Use Assistive Technology: Integrating assistive technology, such as voice recorders and speech-to-text software, can make learning easier.
  • Use Positive Reinforcement: Encouraging a student for the effort they’re making can help motivate them to work harder toward their goal. Consider verbal praise and rewards; your words matter more than you may think they do!
  • Allow Practice Opportunities: Providing students with opportunities to engage their executive functioning skills will help them feel more confident and comfortable and improve the said skills.


Executive functioning IEP goals are designed to assist individuals struggling with their executive functioning skills and, in turn, help them better navigate complex academic and social tasks during their daily life. 
If you’re looking for additional help in teaching teenagers or adults struggling with life skills, check out our Learning Life Skills For a Purpose course.