Lessons in Creative Confidence

Unschooling Myself

“Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up.” – Pablo Picasso

When did you stop playing? Do you know the moment when you began to question whether you were really creative? I remember the college English Professor who had a profound negative effect on my writing. I stopped writing for anyone other than myself.

I still love to write. I love the stories that unfold, even if I don’t know the rules. I am brave when I write, but lately self-doubt was creeping in. My interests were changing and I did not know how to shift my interest on my blog.

About a month ago, I walked into the boy’s room as Austin was drawing this beautiful scene above in markers on his dresser. It is not a fancy dresser, but a cheap IKEA Pine dresser. He looked up at me and stared. I took a breath and then did one of the smartest things I have ever done as a parent.  I said, “That is beautiful! What else can you draw?”

He beamed and told a story of a secret village and villagers. He and his brother have now drawn all over their dressers and pine beds, and I love it. Every day a new story is unfolding.

I honestly don’t know why I was not upset that he drew on the furniture. I saw something in his face when he looked up at me, waiting on my reaction. I cannot explain it. I just knew he needed me to be proud, not frustrated.

Where does confidence in something come from? I think it comes from validation, sometimes from a someone else and sometimes we have to find it ourselves.

We began homeschooling for Kindergarten in September, but I had no idea what I was doing. I had all the tools, but zero confidence. I did know what is expected by cultural norms. “Send them to school already”, was dancing through my head. I began to get frustrated as we dove into homeschooling. Was I teaching them enough? Is this the right thing for them?

I had a conversation with a friend and homeschooling mom of three. She was in a shift in their journey. Her oldest was in middle school, her youngest was having trouble with phonics, and she was having doubts. I was having doubts too, but we realized our doubts were about stories we were telling ourselves about what education should look like. She is back in the grove, and as a confident as ever.

I embraced that our style is really an unschooling style, but the person being ‘unschooled’ is me. The boys only know their experience. Their only truth is what is happening to them at this moment. They have never been to a formal school. It is the purest view of learning you can have. Everything they try is new. There are no stories attached.

As parents, we have to be able to embrace the organic process of learning, because our children already have. They will teach us so much, if we can only trust them. They have no plan, and that is the lesson.



  1. Hi Kathy,
    Even though we don’t have kids, I always enjoy your posts and this one really sparked me. You should be commended for placing creativity above what many would see as destruction. Art and creativity is always better than yelling, and painting or drawing on furniture doesn’t hurt the structural integrity of it. 😉 We lose our creative “kid brains” way too soon anyway and that’s sad.

    So, this brings me to a question for you and all your followers ~

    I am a furniture designer and have thought of doing a line of “whiteboard” furniture that is literally made for art. It would be basic, but high quality furniture painted with a special paint that is used on erasable whiteboards. Anyone could customize it or heck, use it for homework and notes! For kids or adult kids or just plain creative folks that get bored and like to doodle and decorate? I wonder if anyone would be excited about this or if it’s just something that only I think would be cool?
    Thanks and keep writing! You are a talented blogger.
    Ron Corl

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ron,

      Thank you for commenting. It really means so much to me. I think you are so right about losing our child-like thinking way to soon. I really think spending so much time with them is allowing me to find that side again.

      I actually think the furniture idea is terrific. Once they started drawing I was thinking I should have painted them in chalk paint or something so they could continue to create. The whiteboard type surface would be better. I saw a series of moveable whiteboards in Acton Academy Austin and I would love to have something like that for a giant art wall for the boys…and myself!Email me if you want to know more about that. Kathy@kathydonchak.com


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