What are Learning Intentions?

Letting a Preppie loose with a pair of scissors will yield three Preps with fancy new hair-dos. Think short, jagged and uneven bangs. Which has me mentally labeling the scissors pot in a Prep classroom as a ‘DANGER Zone.’ Far more dangerous though is the cognitive ‘Danger Zone.’ A learner staring out the window because they are “bored,” don’t want to do it or didn’t know what to do.


The hook isn’t there. The challenge didn’t make it.

Enter Learning Intentions and Success Criteria.

Learning Intentions are created by teachers, for a lesson, a series of lessons or a full unit. They are an overarching topic, theme or concept and differ from school to school. Teachers create them like a three-piece jigsaw using;

  • The Curriculum
  • Data from the children (think; workbooks or learning samples)
  • Previous Learning Intentions (last week or last time we taught the unit)

Learning Intentions are there to keep us on track.

So, why not keep them in the teachers planners?

The reason we share Learning Intentions (or learning objectives) and at some schools Success Criteria with the children, is so that we don’t have ‘SECRET teacher business.’ Let’s not underestimate our children, they deserve to know what they are learning and have control over it.

How many of us wondered why we were learning at school? What was the actual purpose of the task?

How does this translate to home?

Every Learning Intention is constructed thoughtfully. These are teachers (and students) anchors, to ensure each lesson has a clear purpose and pathway. That means, dear parent educator, they are your anchor too. Think about a football game. We wouldn’t send a child off to play football without first sharing how to play Australian Rules.

At home, our children are trying to achieve the skill, concept or understanding in the Learning Intention.

Now this may not take one lesson. They have the whole year to achieve a Learning Intention. To reiterate, it is the intended learning for that lesson. Not the EXACT learning for the lesson.

Think of it like a traffic light system;

Not sure what the Learning Intention means? Ask the teacher.

“If my child were to show success here, what would it look like?”

And that’s where my next piece will fill the gaps as we expand on Success Criteria. The golden nugget of teaching and learning.

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