Getting families involved in dreaming for the future

My school serves a population of students who struggle financially and many suffer from generational poverty. We know, from the research, that children in generational poverty have difficulty setting goals, and seeing that their futures could be different from their childhoods. This is why it’s so essential to involve parents and kids in dreaming about the future and all the possibilities for their kids. We also use this as an opportunity to talk about what it takes to achieve those goals.

One of the really important things we do as a school is “Family Dream Board Night.” Dream Boards are posterboards that are full of a child’s dreams for the future. Our kids start planning their dream boards at home, including their future career, homes, education, family life, car, pets, and hobbies. Teachers often provide fun materials such as magazines to cut pictures out of, printed pictures from the internet, tissue paper, stickers, sequins, and fun foam.
Then they get to take home a piece of posterboard to create the dream board at home. They can use magazine pictures or draw their own images for each element of their future lives. 

The dream boards are usually really incredible, enlightening, and hopeful. They show us things that our kids think are important, and what they hope their lives are like when they grow up. Many of our kids want big families, pets, and houses with pools.
They want to be teachers, open their own extermination companies, and become police officers. Their boards are charming and earnest, full of childhood dreams.

A group of teachers vote on the boards and we choose one from each grade level to win first place. We also choose a “most creative” board – this year it was a board with a drawstring curtain you could pull back to see the goals inside! We display those boards on the stage on easels and give the kids certificates and a prize donated from our state university and their future high school.

We  plaster the boards all over the gym, cafeteria, and hallways, and then we have our Family Dream Board Night.

On Family Dream Board Night, the families wander through the rooms and hallway, reading their child’s board and all the others, appreciating each child’s creativity and dreams.

The hallway looks incredible, full of student work. It’s so inspiring to walk down the hall and see what each of our children wants in their lives.

Of course, we give away books. We always give away books!

And we have some fun stations. At this station, students get to create a sentence strip comic book about their future lives.

Our kids “Dress for Success” with paper bag creations! They get to decorate a paper bag to dress up for work!

Of course, we have a reading nook so our kids and parents can “Read to Succeed.” We want them to have positive reading experiences together!



 Our kids make little cutout people into their future selves! They love these little “Career People.”

We have such an incredible time with our Family Dream Board Night – it’s such a special event that our children and parents love!
Want to have your own Family Dream Night?


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  1. Lori,

    Thank you for your comment! We've acquired books in a couple different ways. One way is through donation sites in our area. There is a charity that gives away books to kids, teachers, and schools, and with enough notice, they give us books to give to kids! The other way is my principal will set aside a small amount of money, I think from our Title I funding, for books. We order the barely bruised books from Scholastic or the dollar books when we can get them. Hope that helps!

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