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Collaborate with children to build mutual creative confidence

What happens when you treat children as creative collaborators? Respecting and building on their perspectives? Illustrator-mother reluctantly opens her sketchbook to her 4-year old and is delighted by the shared artistic journey.

Photo of Melanie Kahl
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What happens when you treat children as creative collaborators? Respecting and building on their perspectives? Honoring their imagination?


Illustrator and designer, Mica Angela Hendricks, recently wrote about an unexpected collaboration she with her four-year-old daughter. Upon receiving a brand new sketchbook, she unexpected had her creative real-estate encroached upon by her daughter. Reluctantly, she let her share the page. And from it bloomed an imaginative portraiture series––

      "It was such a beautiful combination of my style and hers. And she LOVED    being a part of it. She never hesitated in her intent. She wasn’t tentative. She was insistent and confident that she would of course improve any illustration I might have done. …And the thing is, she DID."

Guess what? Both parties increased their creative confidence. A mother learning to let go and follow whimsy and imagination. A child learning to share a page and artistic pursuit –– watching their work come to life. 

More notes from Mica below:

       "And from it all, here are the lessons I learned: to try not to be so rigid. Yes, some things (like my new sketchbook) are sacred, but if you let go of those chains, new and wonderful things can happen. Those things you hold so dear cannot change and grow and expand unless you loosen your grip on them a little. In sharing my artwork and allowing our daughter to be an equal in our collaborations, I helped solidify her confidence, which is way more precious than any doodle I could have done. In her mind, her contributions were as valid as mine (and in truth, they really were)."

How might we cultivate collaborative opportunities between children and adults to build a mutual sense of creative confidence?


Join the conversation:

Photo of LREI 5th Graders

Hi Ms. Kahl! Thanks so much for posting this wonderful calibration and sharing it with us! I think that It's really cool that she shared her sketchbook with her daughter. Lots of my friends younger siblings will draw on there art peaces trying to help or contribute, but most of them don't appreciate it and think of it as "messing it up" and not embracing like Mica Angela Hendricks did. Thanks for showing everyone anybody can contribute anything!

Photo of LREI 5th Graders

By the way, my name is Rachel.

Photo of Melanie Kahl

Thanks for the note, Rachel! It's great to see you connecting it with friends' relationships to siblings. Right on. Being the "older sibling" or "older peer" is such an interesting balance of carving your own path and patiently and thoughtfully encouraging others.

I am sure there are many ways your 5th grade class interacts with & inspires younger students. I look forward to hearing your ideas for hope to build creative confidence across all generations.

(hint: You might not always realize it, but you and your peers can do a lot to inspire your parents, teachers, and other adults to be more creative!)

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