Co-creation begins by inviting you into a unique space where participants will experience new roles, positions and opportunities to influence and create something together of value and importance to themselves and others. Co-creation with children is a creative and exploratory process where everyone has equal rights to participate and take initiative.
In co-creation with children and adults, it is important to focus on the process and a common cause (as a common third). It contributes to breaking down habitual hierarchies and creating an equal participation and involvement of different perspectives, as the process and a common cause motivate a form of self-forgetting - if the space and relationships are handled ethically and provides confidence and openness. No co-creation process is similar or predictable. But they are based on some of the same disciplines and methods, such as anthropology, philosophy, ethics, social innovation and design thinking.
A co-creation space is an opportunity for formation, learning, ethical reflection, relationships and cultural meetings, dialogical and democratic conversations, observations and various forms of documentation, iterative processes, etc. as a common kind of chaos management.
Critically explore your child's vision
What do you think children can attend in? What consequences will your view have on the child for the process of co-creation? Can the vision be challenged? For example, by testing some of your assumptions with the child in an ethically and responsible manner so that the child can show you his or her competencies?
Consider the prerequisites of the participants
Assess whether the participants have the prerequisites for solving the tasks that are put in front of them? Do the participants have the same prerequisites or (how) should they be differentiated? Also, evaluate the participants' relationships for equal participation, and what it takes to create and maintain it. Consider the roles the child can play. What can you expect from the child in terms of age, development, environment, prerequisites and limitations? Then consider again if your assessment can be challenged and the child may be able to do more than you think, given the child feels the confidence to be in the process.
Consider time and resources
Time is an important factor in co-creation. It often takes longer to co-create with children, and if you do not have the necessary time, you risk losing the educational purpose of co-creation. Therefore: What time do you have available? Is it a process over several days, weeks, months? Or is it one to two hours or a single day? How is time to be allocated to the co-creation process (cf. co-creation models and methods, eg from CoC Playful Minds, Billund Municipality or others). What resources are available, such as different professional knowledge, facilitation, materials, places, etc.
- Define the purpose
Define the overall purpose of the co-creation process. What needs to be worked on and why? Why do you want to co-create? What do you hope will come of it? What challenges can there be?
The process must be purpose-driven, and your goals must act as an accelerator that starts the process. Therefore, the goals can be advantageously set along the way in the process because it supports the common cause and the co-creation. Therefore, consider process objectives, eg what is important for the process to run? Also, evaluate whether the outcome of the process is determined in advance, or whether it is unclear, for example whether to create a physical activity (determined in advance), or whether to create a solution to something (unclear).
Match content and methods to the process
Assess the content of the co-creation process in relation to the overall purpose(s) and the preliminary objectives and match it with appropriate methods. For example, if the participants decide what knowledge they need, then the process must include a method for it. There are many methods that can inspire you for the different stages and processes of co-creation. Prepare a screenplay or plan for the process and make room for adjustments along the way. The process will definitely not go as planned.
Consider roles, positions and security
Think about how many participants that needs to be / are involved and how the processes can be organized to match the number, the space for different processes, the roles and relationships. It is important that everyone has an active role and can explore roles and positions constructively.
Therefore, think about the different roles and different positions in the room, before, during and after the course. How is the diversity of adults and children? What roles can the child play? When and under what circumstances? Is it ethically justifiable to allow the child to take that position? Can the child even say on and off - and on what basis? What role do you play yourself? For example, are you both a facilitator and a teacher? How can power be more evenly distributed between the participants without the child becoming insecure in the new role? Be aware of building a safe space where participants can experience that adults are co-creating and co-learning in a common process and case that needs to be explored. Use playful methods to create energy, community, ease and confidence in space and relationships. Consider building a process based on repeating structures with, for example, rituals to start and end the process. Also consider whether you need to develop your own rules for co-creation.
Customize activities for purposes and participants (diversity)
Consider what tasks and activities participants need to do. Are activities planned by you? How can the participants play well with vastly different experiences and positions. Create concrete and material things together with a basis for play, creativity and experimentation. It is the child's 'home advantage' to play and express in other ways than verbal (up to a certain age). Use a variety of activities, and play with form and methods so that everyone can participate - and experience being able to participate and take initiative in an equal and respectful way.
Reflection and evaluation
Document and evaluate the process on an ongoing basis as an integral part of the activities and community that is constantly being created. Documentation and evaluation can both be done by participants (children and adults) and done in collaboration, facilitated as a gathering or reflection on what works / does not work as intended.
Use co-creation as a methodical habit of the everyday life
Co-creation only happens by doing so. It doesn't have to be long processes with a lot of planning. Co-creation unfolds on a continuum of roles, activities and duration. The decisive factor is the premise, the view of children and the manifestation of co-creation as more than cooperation and child involvement.
The more you do it, the more fun it gets
Think of co-creation with children in different ways, both large and small scale. Use it as a way to challenge yourself and each other, and pay close attention to what the kids are getting out of it. Does it change the children's roles, positions, motivation, participation, courage and way of experiencing the world?
Try your way
The important thing is that you test it with the children, articulate it and invite them along. You have a common cause of learning from each other. As an adult, you must be ready to move around with your own role and position, to reflect with children and colleagues on the consequences and benefits - and to be ethically aware.