In a child’s mind, the world is a playground of possibilities. Their utopian aspirations allow them to grow up to become an astronaut, or a famous fashion designer, or to get married, have kids and live in a house with a white picket fence.
Dreaming of an ideal or exciting future is part of the wonder of childhood, and so this imaginative age is the perfect time to help children realize that they have the power to affect their future.
A wonderful and fun way for parents and teachers to encourage kids to explore what they’d like for their future to include is to have the children write a letter (or letters) to their future self. In it, have them describe their goals and aspirations and what they’d like their life to be like when they’re grown up.
Here are some sample questions that children can use to start their brainstorming:
- What do you want to be when you grow up?
- What do you think it will be like?
- How will this make you happy?
- How will it express the real you?
- What will you like to do most when you’re not at work or school?
- What is your biggest dream?
- What will be the thing about yourself that makes you the proudest?
- Will you want to go to college?
- Which college would you like to go to?
- What will you study if you go to college?
- Will you want to save any money?
- If so, how much? If not, why?
- What will you be saving your money for?
Friends, Family and Lifestyle
- Will you have a boyfriend or girlfriend?
- What will you like most about him or her?
- Will you want to have kids? How many?
- Who will your best friend be?
- What will the place where you live look like?
- Will you have any pets? If so, what kind and what will they be named?
- What do you think the world will be like in 20 years?
- Will you have invented anything? If so, what?
- Will scientists have brought any dinosaurs back to life in your lifetime? If so, are they nice or scary?
- Will we be able to time-travel in the future? If so, where will you travel?
- What do you think will be the most surprising or interesting thing to happen in the world in the next 10 years?
Dreaming and writing about such questions can help shape your child’s letter and inspire your child to set goals for the future, such as higher education, career and family. Sowing such motivational seeds at a young age can create the kind of positive aspirations needed for achieving those goals.
Your child will likely want to save the letter(s) to read in 10 years. Encourage this. IF you child wants to keep the letter private, that’s OK too. Down the road, the letter could be a source of inspiration for your grown-up child, just as it was years before for its bright-eyed younger author.