Drawing is one of the first things a child does when provided with crayons, with or without paper!
Firstly, children learn to express themselves through drawing by creating and using their imagination.
Secondly, drawing enhances their fine motor expertise and develops problem solving skills. And finally, drawing prepares children to transition to school.
Below are the 3 Ages and Stages of Children's Drawing:
Stage 1 - Scribbling
Young children enjoy scribbling and on whatever surface is available: for example, walls, floor boards, carpet, chairs, in sand or dirt etc. They will use crayons; pens; Textas; paints; sticks; or fingers to make their creations. During the scribbling stage, children create visual expressions and patterns of their feelings instead of objects.
These patterns begin to take on recognisable shapes between the ages of three and four years. As children gain more fine motor control and learn to hold the pencil (pincer grip) with more accuracy, circular scribbles begin to form on their paper.
Stage 2 - Symbols
Children begin to draw pictures as they develop confidence, by repeating different shapes and integrating them together. They draw what is important to them and what they know and understand, rather than creating a realistic representation.
Children’s pictures provide a more realistic representation to adults at the age of four years but their pictures may not necessarily be a totally 'correct' representation in the eyes of the adult. For example, the flower drawn is the same size as the house in the picture and is not in proportion. It may have a purple stem and leaves instead of being coloured green, which is the 'correct' colour. We as adults need to understand that the child wanted to use this colour because it is what they know and is important to them.
Stage 3 - Beginning Realism
Children’s art becomes more realistic around the age of eight or nine years. The children spend more time creating people and objects in a more realistic proportion. Their attention to detail and background becomes more important to them in their drawings.
Children of this age strive to create a true representation of what they think, feel and see, thus the exaggeration of their previous drawings is now exchanged for 'correctness' in their representations.
Strategies to help your child develop their drawing skills with minimum negative feedback
- It is very important to ask what your child is drawing, comment on the shapes, lines or colours of their picture.
- Always ensure your child has a large selection of different mediums and materials to choose from to explore and experiment with.
- It is imperative not to negatively describe your child's drawing as a scribble. Think of Picasso!
- Always ask your child to describe what they have created. Praise is important but be careful not to overdo it. Pay attention and praise where your child has really done well!
- A trip to the art gallery is not a bad idea, as this will give your child an idea of what famous artists like to create. But if this isn't possible some photos of artwork/fresh flowers are always suitable and can be equally helpful.
- Never criticise your child's artwork. The development of preschool artwork can be fantastic, as your child draws pink cows, blue suns, and purple trees. Don’t discourage their creative imagination.
- Avoid the temptation to change your child’s picture or by adding to it.
“Each child’s art development follows a universal pattern but each child’s creations are unique. When we understand something of the unfolding of this pattern (the stages) we are better able to help and encourage at each stage" (Pennie Brownlee, Magic Places, 1991).