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Dream It! Preliminary Evidence for an Educational Tool to Increase Children’s Optimistic Thinking

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Optimistic thinking is a facet of social-emotional learning linked to better mental health and problem-solving in children; however, few educational tools exist to improve this important aspect of self-awareness.


To examine the effectiveness of an optimistic thinking tool with diverse students in an elementary school setting. Study hypotheses were that interacting with Dream It! A Playbook to Spark Your Awesomeness would improve children’s understanding of and ability to dream about their futures and increase their optimistic thinking.


Using a non-randomized control group pretest–posttest design, fourth through sixth grade students (N = 111) participated in a total of nine facilitated class sessions: N = 60 children were assigned to the intervention group and N = 51 children were in the control group. The majority of participants were female (56%) with a mean age of 10.21 years (SD = .93). Mixed-methods pre- and post-intervention assessments were conducted at the first and last sessions with measures of dreaming (number and quality), optimistic thinking, hope, grit, and growth mindset.


Children in the intervention group demonstrated significant changes in dreaming and grit compared to control participants, with medium to large effects. Children’s optimistic thinking, a vital component of social-emotional learning, significantly increased after interacting with an educational tool developed to teach them to dream about life goals.


The present study offers evidence that the Dream It! A Playbook to Spark Your Awesomeness is feasible for facilitation in an elementary school setting and has the potential to improve key social-emotional learning outcomes for children.

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The authors would like to thank the undergraduate students who helped to facilitate the study intervention, and the elementary school students and staff who participated.

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Correspondence to Sara E. Williams.

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Jacquez, F., Trott, C.D., Wren, A.R. et al. Dream It! Preliminary Evidence for an Educational Tool to Increase Children’s Optimistic Thinking. Child Youth Care Forum 49, 877–892 (2020).

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