For months, Patty Rodriguez’s 8-year-old son, Alexander, had been asking her for a pet chameleon. Rodriguez, the Mexican-American cofounder of Lil’ Libros, the bilingual books line in Los Angeles, thought it was just a whim. Then, last February, she hosted a vision-board party for Alexander and his friends, inspired by a similar event she’d attended for moms. When she saw the images on her son’s board, she was stunned. “There was a chameleon, a tiger, a cat, you name it,” recalls Rodriguez. “He didn’t just want a pet. He genuinely loves animals. It’s his true passion.”
Pick a day when you have a block of free time, Moore suggests—at least two hours when the house is nice and still, no technology is in use, and you’re unlikely to be interrupted by anyone.
Give your kid enough to work with, such as magazines, old greeting cards, glitter, photos, markers, alphabet letter stickers, and mementos like old ticket stubs. Anything you can stick down works, says Moore. You will also need scissors, glue, and boards (ideally size A3). Invest in a few fun extras to get the creative juices flowing. “Pick up some ribbons or stickers in your child’s favorite color to make the experience feel special,” Moore suggests.
Moore’s go-to instructions for vision boards? “Put down anything at all that makes you happy. There’s no right or wrong.” Your child has free rein—her board can be either painstakingly neat or a totally haphazard hodgepodge!
“Parents know their kids well, so it’s easy to say, ‘Oh look, here’s a picture of ice cream. You love ice cream. Put it on your board,’” says Moore. Instead, ask open-ended questions that spark your child’s imagination, such as: “What would a great vacation look like?” or “Who do you want to be when you grow up?”
To tap into your intuition, remove formalities. “Vision boarding on the floor is like playing,” says Moore. “It fosters free thinking because what we do physically is mirrored mentally.”
A vision board is personal. If your child doesn’t require supervision, he might enjoy some “alone time” with his thoughts. Ask him if there’s anything he needs and if he wishes you to stay, suggests Moore. If he’s okay with your joining, you can make your own vision board. “When your child sees you having fun, he’ll join in,” Moore says. “It’s such a great bonding exercise because it’s not a forced conversation.”
Mami knows best—except in this situation. Try to keep suggestions to yourself. “Observe and occasionally ask if she wants help,” says Moore. “Otherwise, she’ll just be trying to make you happy.”
After your child finishes, encourage him to share any thoughts, feelings, and ideas. Ask: “What does this image mean?” “Why does that word feel important?” “Why does it make you happy?” Talk about what moved you in the creation of your own board too. Let the process be as insightful for your child as it is for you, says Moore.
Put your child’s vision board out in the open, in a central spot, so she can see it every day for inspiration. You can repeat the exercise once or twice a year, especially for milestones like a birthday. And every now and then, in a low-key way, bring up the items on her board. “You can say, ‘Remember that image you posted? Should we write it down and try to make it happen?’” says Moore. “After all, it’s never too early to start thinking about your dreams!”