- Keys to understand what your kids' drawings really tell about them
- Is your child gifted? Their drawings of stick figures could tell you
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- The Stages of Drawing Development in Children: 0-6 Years
The growing control your child has over the muscles in her hands lets her move a marker or paintbrush with purpose and with a goal in mind.
For very young children, there are four stages of drawing and writing that you may see as your child grows from 15 months old to 3 years old. Note that the timetables listed below are approximate; your child may master these skills faster or slower and still be developing just fine. This is the period when young children are just figuring out that their movements result in the lines and scribbles they see on the page.
There is joy in creating art at all ages, but at this stage especially, many children relish the feedback they are getting from their senses: the way the crayon feels, the smell of the paint, the squishy-ness of the clay. For other children, this sensory information may be too much and they may not enjoy some art activities at this stage like finger-painting. As they grow to tolerate more sensory input, you can incrementally re-introduce art activities into their routine.
Keys to understand what your kids' drawings really tell about them
As children develop better control over the muscles in their hands and fingers, their scribbles begin to change and become more controlled. Toddlers may make repeated marks on the page—open circles, diagonal, curved, horizontal, or vertical lines. Over time, children make the transition to holding the crayon or marker between their thumb and pointer finger. Children now understand that writing is made up of lines, curves, and repeated patterns.
They try to imitate this in their own writing. So while they may not write actual letters, you may see components of letters in their drawing.
Is your child gifted? Their drawings of stick figures could tell you
These might include lines, dots, and curves. This is an exciting time as your toddler realizes that his drawing conveys meaning! For example, he may write something down and then tell you what word it says. This is an important step toward reading and writing. This ability to hold an image in your mind and then represent it on the page is a thinking skill that takes some time to develop. At first, children name their unplanned creations. This means that they finish the picture and then label their masterpiece with the names of people, animals, or objects they are familiar with.
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This changes over time. Soon you will see your child clearly planning prior to drawing what he will create. You will also see more detail in the pictures, more control in the way your child handles the crayon or marker, and the use of more colors. What else to be on the lookout for? Once your child has begun to purposefully draw images, she has mastered symbolic thinking.
This important milestone in thinking skills means that your child understands that lines on paper can be a symbol of something else, like a house, a cat, or a person. At this stage, your child also begins to understand the difference between pictures and writing. Children have had experience with letters and print for several years now and are beginning to use letters in their own writing. Usually children start by experimenting with the letters in their own names, as these are most familiar to them.
During this time, children also begin to understand that some words are made of symbols that are shorter and some words are made of symbols that are longer. As a result, their scribbles change. While these letters and words are probably not technically correct, it does not matter. This exciting milestone means that your child is beginning to understand that text and print have meaning. Offer chunky, easy-to-grip crayons, thick pencils, and washable markers.
The Stages of Drawing Development in Children: 0-6 Years
Cut paper bags up to draw on. For salt-dough recipes, check the Internet or your local library.
Let your child wear an old shirt of yours with sleeves cut off as a smock and lay newspaper or an old shower curtain over the table to keep it clean. Let your child experiment and explore. Creativity means having the power to express yourself in your own way Lagoni et al. This independence is just what a growing toddler is looking for to feel confident, competent, and clever. A house? And sometimes we get hung up on the fact that trees should be green, not purple.
Or, That picture is really interesting. Those colors make me feel happy. Or, I see you are working really hard on your drawing. Or just: Tell me about your picture. Then see if your child is interested in sharing more. Let children paint with cotton balls, q-tips, sponges, string—you name it. Give your child crayons and rub over a textured surface like a coin or a screen.
Draw with chalk outside on a sidewalk; see how water changes the color of the chalk. Or add a new dimension to water play by adding drops of washable food coloring to the water. What happens when you mix two different colors of water together?
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Is your child having a tantrum? Offer some play-dough or set out the markers and paper and suggest she make a very, very angry picture. The act of scribbling can serve several useful purposes for the young child. Small muscle coordination and control improve with practice, cognitive abilities are exercised, opportunities for social interaction arise, and the physical movements provide emotional release. Because a toddler's small muscle control is not fully developed, he or she may approach the drawing task by grasping the marker with his or her fist, creating a bit of difficulty placing the marks exactly where he or she wants them.
Movements are typically large, involving the entire arm with little finger or wrist control.
This is because the pattern of physical development proceeds from the center of the trunk outward. With practice, the toddler will naturally improve his or her control of wrist and finger movements. Full control, however, will not be achieved until much later. A few toddlers rest the forearm on the drawing surface to give them additional control. A rhythmic, repetitive, scrubbing motion is common among two-year-olds, providing sensory enjoyment and making drawing a very physical act. By providing children with the materials and opportunities to scribble we can promote physical skills.
Just as babbling is a natural way to gain language, scribbling is a natural gateway to muscle control and coordination. In fact, Cratty termed scribbling "motor babbling. Intellectually toddlers are concerned with both the process and results of their art. They do not intend to represent objects at first. Instead, they are concerned with color and line. However, they may look at the marks and scribbles they have made and, in surprise, recognize a shape and name it. While they may not have intended to draw a dog or tree, the scribbles suggest the shapes.
Children interpret, rather than intend. This is called fortuitous realism and becomes common as a child approaches three years. According to Piaget and Inhelder , a child is mentally able to use symbols to represent reality by 18 months. Therefore a child can engage in pretend play. This ability to pretend can be seen as a toddler uses the movement of the crayon or marker to depict an action in his or her drawings. Dots, for example, may be rain falling or animals moving about the page Berk, Gestures are used to represent the action Cox, Kellogg described 20 basic scribbles children tend to use during their first, exploratory stage.
Most children do not use all of these scribbles Cox, Instead, children favor certain ones as they develop individual styles Gardner , It also appears that scribbles are not placed randomly.