Inspire Kids to Dream Big this Summer

Inspire Kids to Dream Big this Summer

It’s peak summer, and for parents, that still means long days! 

Maybe you’re stretching out the blissfully relaxing days. Maybe you’re feeling the stress with school out… But almost guaranteed, you’re the CAO of summer (aka Chief Activity Officer).

We have ideas to help you make the most of it! 

These are not just activities but ideas for stretching kids in a way we sometimes neglect—stretching their capacity to dream big!

Why dream big?

“A recently published study analyzes surveys of 17,000 children conducted 10 times from 1958 up to the present day and finds that when it comes to how much kids achieve in life, big dreams matter as much if not more than IQ or the family's socioeconomic situation.” — 64 Years of Data Proves That the Bigger Kids Dream, the More Successful They'll Be, Inc.

But it’s not just about future success! 

Big dreams fuel kids’ hope, excitement, and zest for life. Dreams are a kind of hope, and hope makes us more optimistic and resilient. All things we want for our kids!

So, how do you help your kid dream big? Here are some ideas you can start to practice this summer!

Create an environment where big dreams thrive

Kids are natural dreamers. Usually, they just need a little encouragement and the right conditions for building big dreams. Here are some ways you can create that environment.

Encourage curiosity and exploration

Curiosity is essential for big dreams! When kids get curious about the world around them, they envision what they’ll be, do, and experience.

Sometimes, the most important thing we can do as parents is step back and give kids the space and time to explore what they’re discovering. (However messy, loud, or time-consuming that discovery may be!)

And those 101 questions your kid asks you every day? When it starts to feel like too much, just remember that curiosity brings excitement to life.

Children who are curious enjoy their lives. They are less likely to get bored and find life dull or routine. They feel that there are always new, interesting things just around the corner. It can lead them to have adventurous and interesting lives.” — Curiosity is the Wick in the Candle of Learning*, PennState Extension

Curious kids ask, “What if? Why not?” and turn into adults who change the world.

Make screen time learning time

Ok, you already know this, and it has to be said! Screen time is usually passive time. When kids are on screens, they’re being passively entertained. 

You want them to be actively engaged in discovery. (That’s when they start to discover their dreams.)

Of course, some screen time is educational and really does broaden kids’ horizons. Try to steer your child toward high-quality programs that stimulate their thinking, creativity, and curiosity, like these:

Educational TV Programs

  • Sesame Street: A classic program that teaches preschoolers about letters, numbers, and social skills through engaging characters and stories.
  • Bluey: An animated series that focuses on imaginative play and family interactions, teaching kids about emotions, problem-solving, and creativity.
  • Peep and the Big Wide World: This show encourages exploration and scientific thinking through the adventures of a curious bird named Peep.
  • Wild Kratts: An animated series where brothers Chris and Martin Kratt explore wildlife and teach kids about animals and their habitats.
  • Daniel Tiger’s Neighborhood: Based on "Mister Rogers' Neighborhood," this program teaches social and emotional lessons through relatable stories.

Educational Games

  • Khan Academy Kids: An app that offers a wide range of activities and lessons in math, reading, and social-emotional learning, tailored for young children.
  • ABCmouse: A comprehensive early learning app with lessons in reading, math, science, and art for children ages 2-8.
  • Osmo: Interactive games that combine physical play with digital learning, focusing on subjects like math, coding, and creativity.
  • Prodigy: A math game that uses an adventure-based approach to engage kids in practicing math skills aligned with curriculum standards.
  • Scratch: A free coding platform where kids can create their own interactive stories, games, and animations, learning programming concepts in a fun and engaging way.
  • Educational Websites
  • PBS Kids: Offers a variety of games, videos, and activities based on popular PBS Kids shows, focusing on subjects like reading, math, and science.
  • National Geographic Kids: Provides educational games, videos, and articles about animals, nature, and geography.
  • BrainPOP: Features animated educational videos, quizzes, and games on a wide range of topics, including science, social studies, and health.

When you can, try to build in time to watch or play with your kid, so you can engage in conversations after the educational screen time. Prompt them to share what they learned, what was amazing, and what else they want to know.

You might decide that screen time dampens your kids’ natural curiosity and exploration. If that’s your concern, check out our family digital detox guide.

Allow time for imagination

When kids imagine, they dream. Imaginative play helps kids develop the habit of thinking big, envisioning themselves in different situations and roles, and figuring out what really lights them up!

Here are some ideas to encourage imaginative play:

  • Provide simple materials: Offer blocks, dress-up clothes, and art supplies to inspire creativity.
  • Build forts: Let them use pillows, blankets, and furniture to create their own hideaways.
  • Role-playing: Encourage them to act out stories and scenarios, whether playing house, superheroes, or explorers.
  • Storytelling: Spend time making up stories together, allowing their imagination to lead the way.
  • Spend slow time in nature: Explore parks, forests, or your backyard. Nature offers endless opportunities for imaginative play, from pretending to be explorers to creating art with found objects.

These classic kid activities have inspired world-changers throughout history to achieve their dreams! (Plus, imaginative play offers so many benefits for kids, from emotional well-being to development.)

Broaden your child’s horizons (so they can dream bigger!)

Kids’ imaginations know no bounds! Give them access to knowledge and experience, and their dreams will know no bounds, too. 

Talk with them (a lot!)

It’s easy to forget what kids don’t know! Almost everything is new to them. You’re in a position to broaden their worldview just by telling them things you take for granted. 

With a broader worldview, they can dream bigger dreams! 

Talk to them about the world around you, but also about what’s beyond that world. Share stories about what amazing people have achieved. Ask them what gets them excited and inspired so they can start to understand their own motivations.

Importantly, make it a back-and-forth conversation. Science shows that when parents ask questions, listen, and respond, it’s powerful for children’s growing brains.

“MIT cognitive scientists have now found that conversation between an adult and a child appears to change the child’s brain… 

The findings suggest that parents can have considerable influence over their children’s language and brain development by simply engaging them in conversation, the researchers say.” 

Talking With Your Children Is Important for Their Brain Development, Association of American Universities

Foster a love of reading

You already know this! Reading is essential for developing a child’s imagination and creativity. 

Books transport young minds to new worlds, sparking dreams and innovative ideas. They introduce kids to diverse characters and scenarios, helping them envision endless possibilities. 

Most children’s books are fiction. But what about non-fiction? 

“Biographies are a great way to help kids learn about the lives of successful people and how they became successful. Biographies can also be used as a tool to inspire children to set goals for themselves and work towards achieving them.” — Why You Should Read Biographies to Your Kids, 5 Benefits of Reading Biography Books for Children, Little Fun Club

Here are some titles to start with:

  • We Are Water Protectors by Carole Lindstrom: Inspired by Indigenous-led movements to protect water, this book encourages children to stand up for environmental justice.

  • The Boy Who Harnessed the Wind by William Kamkwamba and Bryan Mealer: A true story about a boy in Malawi who built a windmill to bring electricity to his village.

  • I Am Malala: How One Girl Stood Up for Education and Changed the World by Malala Yousafzai: The young readers' edition of Malala Yousafzai's inspiring story of advocating for girls' education.

  • The Boys Who Challenged Hitler: Knud Pedersen and the Churchill Club by Phillip Hoose: A true story about a group of Danish boys who led resistance efforts against the Nazi occupation during World War II.

  • Hidden Figures: The True Story of Four Black Women and the Space Race by Margot Lee Shetterly: The young readers' edition of the story about the African American women mathematicians who helped NASA.

  • Young Pele: Soccer's First Star by Lesa Cline-Ransome: The story of Pelé, the Brazilian soccer star, and his journey from a boy with a dream to becoming one of the greatest soccer players in history.

  • Good Night Stories for Rebel Girls by Elena Favilli and Francesca Cavallo: A collection of stories about extraordinary women from around the world, both historical and contemporary.

  • Peak by Roland Smith: A gripping adventure story about a boy named Peak Marcello who attempts to climb Mount Everest and discovers much about himself along the way.

  • I Am Jane Goodall by Brad Meltzer: Part of the "Ordinary People Change the World" series, this biography tells the story of Jane Goodall, the renowned primatologist and environmentalist.

  • The Story of Ruby Bridges by Robert Coles: The true story of six-year-old Ruby Bridges, who became the first African American child to integrate an all-white elementary school in New Orleans.

  • Who Was Albert Einstein? by Jess Brallier: Part of the "Who Was?" series, this book introduces young readers to the life and achievements of Albert Einstein.

  • Who Was Helen Keller? by Gare Thompson: The story of Helen Keller, who overcame the challenges of being deaf and blind to become an inspiring author and activist.

  • El Deafo by Cece Bell: A graphic memoir about the author’s experiences growing up deaf and finding her own superpowers.

  • Code Talker: A Novel About the Navajo Marines of World War Two by Joseph Bruchac: A novel based on the true stories of Navajo code talkers who used their language to create an unbreakable code during World War II.

  • Mae Among the Stars by Roda Ahmed: A picture book inspired by the life of Mae Jemison, the first African American woman to travel in space.

These books show children the power of big dreams and perseverance, no matter who they are, where they live, or what challenges they face.

Find chances to meet inspiring people

Has anyone ever asked, “If you could meet any historical figure, who would it be?” Such a great question! And a hard question.

We don’t always keep our heroes in view when life gets busy. Having personal heroes really can be inspiring for us as well as our kids.

Here are a few ideas for helping kids find role models and ignite their aspirations:

  • Engage your children in conversations about who they find inspiring and who they'd like to meet 
  • Attend talks and presentations by people who have achieved remarkable things, such as local leaders, activists, community helpers and athletes
  • Participate together in community events and volunteer activities where your kid can interact with and get inspired by everyday heroes

These are experiences that can stay with your child for a lifetime! 

Let the dreams begin!

"The future belongs to those who believe in the beauty of their dreams."  — Eleanor Roosevelt

The future belongs to our kids, and one of the greatest gifts we can give them is encouragement to dream. 

So, when you help them choose a book… When you start up a conversation on a long car ride… When you help clean up a very big mess after a very exciting activity… Remember that you’re helping to build their capacity to dream!

To support kids to grow, develop and reach their full potential, you can also give them the nutrients they need. Renzo’s melty tabs make it easy and delicious for kids to thrive!

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