When I think of summer, my mind immediately drifts back to a few beloved childhood memories: the smell of salty air and coconut lotion at the beach, jumping off the side of my father’s fishing boat for a quick swim in the ocean, eating LOTS of frozen popsicles, and riding around the neighborhood in my rollerblades until the sun started to drop out of the sky and the street lights turned on, signaling that it was time to head back home.
Summers were the best when I was a kid. As a parent, summers can be tricky. I definitely did not appreciate the amount of work and planning it must have taken my parents to craft a wonderful summer until I was an adult with children of my own.
And unfortunately, the time of children wandering hopefully around their neighborhoods, knocking on doors for other children to come out and play, whether they knew them or not, is nearly extinct. Summer fun doesn’t often just happen anymore, it must be planned.
Enter the Summer Dream Board.
Encouraging a Growth Mindset
A few years ago, a friend turned me on to the company Big Life Journal, an online website dedicated to creating growth mindset journals and other products for children and teens.
Growth Mindset is an underlying belief that people can have about themselves. If you believe that your talents, efforts, and thoughts about yourself can be cultivated and improved upon, then you have a growth mindset. If, however, you believe that your talents, thoughts and efforts are how they are and can never change or improve, then you have what is referred to as a Fixed Mindset.
Proponents of growth mindset, like Big Life Journal, believe that teaching children to have a growth mindset can help them grow in facing adversity, developing self-confidence, their desire to learn new things, and even in the way they internalize mistakes, criticism, and failure.
But what does all of this have to do with having a great summer?
Making Your Summer Dream Board
One of the strategies used by Big Life Journal with children is visualizations, the practice of picturing your goals in front of you to help make it easier to work toward them. They do this through creating Vision Boards, collage style posters of found or created images that depict the child’s goals and dreams in different categories, even for summer vacations.
Your Summer Dream/Vision Board can be as simple or as complex as you like it to be. The pictures your children add can be magazine cutouts, images printed from the internet, or even hand-drawn.
Big Life Journal suggests including four categories on the board:
- Fun Things to Do
- Places to Go
- Things to Get Better At
- New Things to Try
In our house, we like to make one board (a piece of paper really) for all of us so it becomes a family activity.
First, we begin with a list of all the things we want to include. Second, we sketch out our goals, mural style, onto our board in pencil. Third, we make dua or supplication to Allah to bless us with a wonderful summer and make it easy for us to accomplish our goals, to remember Him, and to be grateful to Him for all of the blessings that He gives us.
I find that as Muslims, making sure to include dua as an integral part of our efforts is an important step in not only developing a growth mindset, but also having a barakah (blessings) mindset that recognizes all bounties, success, and opportunities are from Allah, the Most High.
Dream Board Ideas
In case you’re having trouble coming up with what to put on your dream boards, I included a few ideas for each category suggested above.
Fun Things to Do:
- Fishing at the lake
- Collect seashells by the shore
- Ride a rollercoaster
- Road trip
- Sell homemade treats to the neighbors
- Ride my bike
Places to Go:
- The beach!
- Visit a family member who lives out of state
- Waterpark (for bigger kids)
- Splashpad (for little ones)
- Masjid youth group camping trip
- Hiking to a nearby waterfall
Things to Get Better At:
- Cleaning my room
- Helping with housework
- Sharing with my siblings
- Rubix cube solutions
- Reading Quran
New Things to Try:
- Memorize a new surah
- Face a fear
- Play a new sport
- Learn 3 common phrases of a new language
- Find a new book genre you’ve never read before
Finally, once our board is set, we start planning out each item and taking steps to make it happen. Once we accomplish something from our board, we take turns coloring it in so by the end of the summer, our dream board becomes a lively and colorful depiction of all that we were able to experience by the permission of Allah.
Wishing your family a joy and growth-filled summer, inshaAllah!
Melissa Barreto is a homeschooling mother of five children and the Co-Founder of Wildflower Homeschool Collective, a homeschool organization based in Northern New Jersey.