The Value of Drawing.
Children enjoy drawing and in the process they gain emotional satisfaction. It offers a way to form and strengthen connections of the brain and hand. In the magic of capturing the unique mark the child makes, his ideas can be expressed.
It ultimately gives him a way to work out problems and once it is expressed he feels better able to cope with it. He sees the possibility that communication can be achieved through pictures and this fires his imagination.
Why the quick way is not always the best way.
The child asks, ”Mum, I want to draw!”.
Mum replies, “I have printed out some images and you can colour them in.”
Easy – but this does not satisfy the urge of the child to draw.
Drawing is something quite different to being occupied with colouring a printed image.
How to introduce drawing to a one-year-old.
- A soft pencil – 2B
- A4 white paper
- Tape – masking tape
- Tape the paper to a child-size table, or on the floor where you are sitting with the child. Or sit him on your lap and tape the paper in front of you.
- With the pencil, make a line as the child is watching you.
- Put the pencil in his hand.
As the toddler realises that the mark he is making is his, he is hooked.
Certainly the pencil grip is not very good at this age but it is developing. The easiest way for a child to draw is to use his finger. The next writing implement should be chalk, but this can happen as well as using the pencil.
Set up to do some drawing every few days. There will be little noticeable change in the scribbles he produces for a while, but you will notice that he likes making marks and gets a sense of growing mastery over the drawing tools.
Scribbling is good!
Between 18 months and 4 yrs.
- A large black crayon
- Large white paper approx 24inx 18in or 60cm x 40cm.
- An easel – or fasten paper to the wall.
The toddler should draw standing at an upright surface. This is to exercise the muscles of the arm and back.
Draw alongside your child but not for him. He may insist that you are better at it, but explain that his drawing is unique and precious.
Close observation will show that the child begins to attach meaning to parts of his drawing.
He may be saying, “This is a road, this is daddy, this is a duck etc.”
Scribbling with lots of talking and storytelling is good.
“The naming of the scribbles and the later attaching of stories is of the highest significance for the further development of the child. It’s an indication that the child’s thinking has completely changed.”
– Victor Lowenfeld, Professor of art education and author of “The Nature Of Creative Activity”.
The reason for drawing in black and white without the distraction of colour, is that it results in a satisfying line.
At this age there is also a burning interest in colour which is best satisfied with paint. So alongside the drawing the child can be painting.
I have a another blog “How To Introduce Painting To Toddlers” that you can read HERE.
Four Years and older.
- Soft pencils or artist’s charcoal that is not too thin.
- Although it is always good to continue working at an easel, the 4yo should sit at a table with feet on floor. The table should be waist high when he sits. The sitting posture encourages the concentration. It is necessary for the development of the control of the fine muscles of hand and fingers.
- Paper A4
It is best to lay the paper on a piece of thick card for cushioning.
You may find that the young child asks for help in “what to draw”. There are many opportunities to suggest a suitable subject.
After a trip or a morning of gardening the whole experience can be expressed in a drawing. When he can talk he can tell you about what the plan is for the drawing and all about it.
If you make it a family habit to use a sketch book and try to sketch a scene or an animal, then the child gets the idea that this is a possibility.
Children have ideas and are often bursting to tell you. You can suggest that they draw their idea or draw a plan of it.
For example, he bursts in saying, “I want to make a cubby!”
Mum responds, “Right at this moment I can’t help you make a cubby, but you can draw a plan for your idea.”
Or, he says, “I want to make a great big cake with chocolate stars and strawberry sugar.”
Mum says, ‘Let’s make a plan of your idea and draw the cake you have in mind.”
Doing simple still life studies of household objects is a good exercise in seeing and noticing shapes. Once started his ideas will flow.
The small child does not need a drawing lesson, only the means to draw. Through this experience his skills will blossom and different possibilities will emerge.
Things To Avoid:
- Printing out images for the child to copy or colour.
This sends a message that everything has already been drawn and done by an expert. He sees the stylised drawings and accepts that style. He doesn’t question that he can express the subject in any other way.
His own creativity is stifled not helped.
- Doing the drawing for them, or showing them quick ways to copy, like tracing.
Things that help the child to express feelings are:
- Uninterrupted time to work.
- Help with materials.
- Support by being receptive and interested.
Please share and leave a comment below – Dawn.