Stages of Drawing in Child Development

Some children begin to draw as soon as they can pick up a pencil, and they never seem to stop. Some children draw to appease the art teacher, but refuse the pen and paper elsewhere. Wherever a youngster falls on the drawing spectrum, most children proceed through the same basic stages of drawing and art creations.

One to Two Years

The first marks on paper are generally scribbles. Children view drawing as a kinetic activity, rather than an interpretation of the world. Allowing children to scribble strengthens fine motor muscles and introduces children to writing utensils. At the end of this stage, children may begin to give one word names to their scribbled creations.

Two to Three Years

Scribbling becomes more controlled, and shapes may begin to form. Circles may become faces, and the importance of the child naming their creation increases. Children may call a series of scribbles and random circles a “house,” though the picture does not look like a house. Allow children to create and name their creations, as this stage represents a child’s growing ability to create images representing the visual world.

Three to Four Years

Drawing becomes more controlled at this stage. The most common image is the person, with a circle face and straight lines for legs. The body does not appear yet. Artists in this age group are creating a conscious form, and drawings may become more complex. Symbols change often during this time as children are constantly searching for new images to represent.

Four to Five Years

The body is added to the person at this stage. Children begin to realize details are missing from their drawings, and they attempt to add the missing pieces. Hair joins the body on the person, along with ears, hands, fingers, feet and toes.

Five to Eight Years

Often referred to as the “schematic stage,” children begin to draw objects with more complex details, such as a house with a garage, trees, a dog, a family and a car in the driveway. Space relationship gains order and children tend to draw on a base line, moving away from their earlier “floating drawings.” The child’s understanding of two-dimensional concepts is reflected in their drawings. Children begin to communicate a deeper understanding of dimension and detail through their artwork.

Eight Years and Beyond

Artists at this stage begin to realize finer details are missing in their work. Objects begin to overlap within drawings, and minute details are added. Where a house may only have windows in previous drawings, an older child may add a person in the window, eaves on the edge of the house, or tree branches leaning over the roof. Dimensions increase and drawings become more complex.

Stages of Drawing in Child Development – By Rebecca Mayglothling


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