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When You Grow Up: A Lesson from Kids to Dream Big

When You Grow Up: A Lesson from Kids to Dream Big

What do you want to be when you grow up? The teachers at a Bright Horizons preschool in Illinois asked this question to a group of students on their first day of school. The answers were perfect – a doctor, a princess, a race car driver, a zookeeper, a mommy, a fireman, a ninja, a soccer monster. They documented the answers with photos of each child holding a chalkboard displaying their aspiration. The goal is to help the preschoolers realize their big dream through all aspects of the curriculum over the course of the year.

Children playing dress-up

Aside from being a brilliant project, there is a lesson to be learned here. The lesson to dream big. Why can’t I become a zookeeper or a fireman if I wanted? And it may not pay the bills but a soccer monster sounds like a blast if you ask me. If you posed this question to me as a kid, I’m sure Princess Leia would have made the top three alongside gymnast and teacher.

But somewhere along my career path and life journey, these dreams got brushed aside. Some were pushed aside for practical reasons – my cartwheels are pretty sad – but others because I was scared. I went to college to become a teacher. It was my big dream for many years. But I felt that you needed to have this incredible gift to be able to educate children and I didn’t have the confidence to pursue a teaching career. I let my dream go. I feel I’ve been lucky to have created opportunities to teach and participate in education over my career but never as a traditional classroom teacher. It makes me wonder how many others altered their dreams or gave up on them for <insert reason here>.

I’m happy with my choices now. But sometimes I wonder what it would be like to follow a childhood dream. Wouldn’t it be a blast if I embraced life like the Tambourine Guy (aka Tim Kubart) and turned that talent and energy into a career as a preschool entertainer on TV. Now that’s a big dream!

So why not dream big? And why not support our children towards learning more about what it means to be a doctor, a fireman, or a ninja? I asked my kids what they want to be when they grow up. My daughter (age 7) said wild animal vet and my son (age 2) aims to save the world as Superman. Why not, I say?

Following Bright Horizons at Kemper Lakes example, we asked some children in our Lexington, MA preschool “what do you want to be when you grow up?” Watch a few of their answers and then join the conversation with Bright Horizons on Twitter using #BrightHorizons.


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