It was two years ago when we noticed that Braeden’s childhood drawings were a bit more than typical childhood drawings. The first smurf movie was scheduled to be released that year and we started seeing drawings of smurfs around the house. Of course, we thought that they were tracings. We had no idea that he was looking at pictures either physically or imagined, and drawing what he saw. That was the year that his school pumpkin transformed into a smurf. That’s when we knew that the kid had an eye for art.
A few months later, while watching Phineas and Ferb, Braeden had another idea. He wanted to play with his favorite characters so he drew them, cut them out and attached them to craft sticks. He was so excited because he made his own puppets. That was the day that nothing interested him more than the things that he made. All that I kept thinking was…please God don’t let him lose this!
The Self-Assigned “Genius Hour” Project
A few weeks ago, Braeden decided that he wanted to make a robot. That decision morphed into multiple forms with puppetry being his current focus. The cool part about watching the kid go was taking note of his process. He captures inspiration in his ipad via pictures. He researches through youtube and learns the necessary steps to create what he wants to create. Prioritizing isn’t a problem because during the school week, the homework load is so heavy that these projects normally happen over the weekend. Last week, he had no homework so every night was dedicated to puppets. For Braeden, “Genius Hour” happens at home and we’re okay with that as no one had to designate time for him to create. He’s doing it because he wants to and that’s important!
His Way or No Way!
When kids are creating, adults need to step away unless summoned by the kid or if there are safety concerns. There were moments when I looked at the patterns that Braeden was making and thought about how I would do it instead. I never shared my thoughts with him. Braeden’s creative process includes room for making mistakes and he prefers it that way. In his words, “that is how he learns”, and we respect that. I’ve seen many projects be taken over by adults and the kid becomes an afterthought. For Braeden, it’s his way or no way. Any variation on that can potentially destroy a kid’s creative mojo. Don’t do that.
Document the Process
Braeden learned through youtube. We discuss this often and in our discussions have talked about him creating his own “how to” videos for other kids to view. Each step of the way, from idea to creation, Braeden asked that we snap pictures to document the process. We decided to share via social media and every share was initiated by him. Again, it’s important that the kid owns the process. It’s his project, after all. We are, however, very mindful of Braeden’s age and aside from his own blog…most shares are done via my social media account. That part is important as well.
What to Do with Creations
Braeden made it clear early on that he wanted to make puppets so that he could make his own puppet show. People have asked me if he had his own youtube channel. I stuck to my guns and insisted that when his channel came to life, it would be of his own doing. He designed every aspect, including the storyline. I’ll be honest in saying that this is where we were at odds. He wrote a great story but he ad-libs when he performs in order to be comedic. Again, this is where I had to suck it up and let him be him. Braeden said that he wanted to create a show that he would want to watch. It’s not perfect but it’s his and again…that is what matters most.
Below is the story that Braeden made…
What I Learned
Just as dancers get a stage and athletes have a field…visual artistic kids need a platform too. My job in this process was to provide that. The rest was all him…as it should be.