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Vision boards show the way

You kid’s pictures will speak louder than words

Vision boards help kids express themselves

Even when a child cannot yet express complex emotions or desires in words, they often can communicate with images. In my years working in a preschool, we were continually amazed at nonverbal children’s expressive art or their ability to convey emotions without language.

I learned the part of the brain responsible for this – generally on the right, and connected to emotions – is different from the part responsible for words – generally on the left, and connected with social skills and language.

The recent rise of vision boards – hailed by Oprah, among others – taps into this means of expression, and is proving very useful for families.

A vision board is a board, or poster, where a person displays images and words representing whatever they want to be, do, or posses. It can help clarify what they want and can help them concentrate and maintain focus on deeper priorities.

Writing for Parents, Diana Aydin suggests that helping a child create a vision board as a way for all to gain insight into your child’s motivations and personality. It can also provide an opportunity for crafting fun.

READ MORE: Help Your Child Keep a Gratitude Journal

For supplies, Aydin suggests “magazines, old greeting cards, glitter, photos, markers, alphabet letter stickers, and mementos like old ticket stubs. You will also need scissors, glue, and boards (ideally size A3). Invest in a few fun extras to get the creative juices flowing.”

Crucially, she advises sitting back and letting things happen. Susie Moore, life coach and author of What If It Does Work Out?, says if you must ask questions, keep them open-ended. Rather than, “Oh look, here’s a picture of ice cream. You love ice cream. Put it on your board,’” ask “What would a great vacation look like?” or “Who do you want to be when you grow up?” These questions will spark imagination.

If your child is old enough to be unsupervised, they may do better with their own space. Ask them if they need anything, and beat it, perhaps even to make your own vision board. And finally, when it’s done, ask them about it: “Why does this make you happy?” “Why is that word important?”

Perhaps most important: display the results prominently. And be ready to be surprised.

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