I always thought it best to let children draw and they will do so by simply having access to drawing materials. All over the world children engage in drawing using scribbles, symbols and stick figures etc. However, children don’t automatically move from symbolic drawing to representative drawing.

When you give children guidance in realistic drawing from the time they are very young, they will quickly graduate to skilled drawing right after giving up the symbolic drawing style. They can do both without one interrupting the other. Mona Brookes explains this in her book “Drawing with Children”.

From as early as 12 months a child can begin to draw. The child’s creation of himself is not always outwardly visible. We see only the periphery, not the creative centre from which individuality emanates.

Drawing can be seen as a subject where young children advance in their understanding and skill as they are given regular experience. In drawing they pass through stages of development and with the consideration of these stages adults can offer suitable materials and allow experimentation. The process leads to a confidence and ultimately an ability to using their drawing as a means of expression and communication.

The atmosphere should be conducive to concentration and free from emotional stress. There must be no interruptions during the session, and phones need to be turned off. Leave the child to his own thoughts, as even the adult’s encouragement can be an interruption.

When there are several children drawing they sometimes compare, judge and criticize. To avoid this, the teacher or parent must explain how comments on other pupils’ drawing are not helpful. When commenting on the work of children, it is good to avoid these words:

Good, bad, best, better. Rather talk about how drawings are different from one another.

A good starting point for children to attempt to draw is when there is an understanding that the child is free to dislike what he produces and that it is acceptable to change things or to start over. There are no mistakes and there is no right way to do it.

The workspace must be well thought out. The child can draw at an easel, on large sheets of paper attached to the wall or the floor, or at a table of suitable height. If the child is sitting at a table his feet should reach the floor.

When the child seeks advice assure him that you are interested in his drawing and you can give your time without resentment and ask, “Tell me about your picture.”  Acknowledging the effort without judgement is the trick.


  • Have at least 20 sheets of paper at hand.
  • A heavy cardboard mat under the drawing paper.
  • A thick soft pencil gives a distinct mark and even if the very young child holds it awkwardly it still satisfies him.
  • Markers in different thicknesses are also an option.
  • Do not provide erasers.
  • Place the drawing implements close by.

Remind the child that he can secure the paper with his free hand so the paper doesn’t slip around.

Scribbling is what we want the child to be involved in. It is common that the young child draws the feeling of love for mummy, daddy or the dog. The scribble then becomes the expression of that emotion.

There are tasks that give a point of interest in the drawing exercises presented.  These are systems that help analyse visual data and these can be learned. Alongside these helpful learning tools the scribbling and drawing to express emotion should continue.



Experiment with the materials.


The adult has a paper and marker of his own that the child can see clearly and this is where the exercise is demonstrated.

Say the name of the exercise clearly.


As you say the name “Straight Line” draw a straight line on your demonstration paper.

As you say “Curved Line” draw a curved line on your demonstration paper.

As you say the name “Angle Line”, demonstrate how to make an angle – little ones can only achieve this by lifting the pencil and setting it off in a new direction

Do the same for the following:

A dot

A circle

Simply draw these lines on your demonstration page and invite the child to do the same.


This chart can be displayed in the drawing area –


A toddler can have a lesson on The 5 Elements of Shape by pointing these out in the environment. Have the child move around, walk in a straight line or make angles with their arms and legs.  You can make a game out of touching, and naming the 5 elements of shape that compose an object.

  • Name one of the 5 elements of shape and have the child find it.
  • Point to one of the 5 elements and have the child define it

Freehand abstract designs are the best ways to become familiar with the elements of shape. Simply draw the 5 elements all over the paper with this random type format.



Copy the image you see directly under the example with a regular-tipped black marker.

It is not necessary to reproduce the image exactly as that is not our goal in the drawing process. You merely want to duplicate the same general structure.
It is a lesson in combining the basic elements of shape.

You can use this grid to make your own combinations –



This guided abstract design is suitable for 3.5 year olds.


A small piece of paper, such as a ¼ of a an A4 sheet, is best for this exercise considering the length of attention span of young beginners.

Turn your page in any direction.

Choose a broad-tipped marker and make 3 straight lines anywhere you want on the paper. They should start on the edge of the paper and run off another edge. It doesn’t matter if the lines cross each other.

  1. Make 3 dots anywhere on the paper.
  2. Make a curved line and make the line go off the paper when you are finished.
  3. Make a circle anywhere you want.
  4. Now make texture in all the different areas.


These exercises help the child see contours and recognise the basic elements of design in an image or objects in the environment.

Another way to encourage drawing is to start a collection of beautiful images to look through and discuss with your child. Choose books with tasteful illustrations and visit art galleries from time to time.

Always put the name of the child on the back of the sheet used for drawing or painting as the written word interferes with the appreciation of the image itself.

Please share and leave a comment below.

Pin It on Pinterest

Share This