What is my child drawing?

What is my child drawing?

Many children seem to love drawing, but did you know children generally follow a sequence in their development of drawing skills. Viktor Lowenfeld linked Creative and Mental Growth into 3 main stages in early childhood.

  • The Scribbling stage
  • The pre schematic stage
  • The schematic stage

The Scribbling stage starts around 2 years of age. Children are enjoying the process of art. They are engaging in a fun and physical experience. They then begin to notice that they are making marks on the papers and they explore cause and effect. They are not trying to represent reality. Child may then start to name their product, but this is often due to adults asking for a title

The pre schematic stage is around 3-4years. Scribbles evolve into circles shapes. The ability to draw a circle allows children to start to make representational drawings. It is also the beginning of being able to create the letters of the alphabet. The first recognisable representations, most often this is a person. These representations start with simple circles and lines. At first correct placement and form is not required, but this develops.

Through the positive conversations and modelling from adults, children begin to understand the communicative power of their mark making

The schematic stage is usually from 6 years children start to develop Schemas or rules when drawing things that make are important tend to be larger in the drawing.

Children start to implement rules of drawing such as anchoring their drawings on the page e.g. drawing ground to stand on. Concepts of size are developed e.g. adults are drawn larger than children. Children tend to draw things in a particular way but change these as they learn new or modified schemas.

Here are some ways you can help strengthen your child’s drawing creativity:

  • Do not try to control the process. Adults who constantly exert supervision and control diminish the spontaneity and self-confidence that are essential to the creative spirit.
  • Try not to draw for your children. All this teaches is that you can draw better than them. Instead if they ask you to do it for them try to guide them on what they need to do. E.g. “He has a head so you could draw a circle for his head….. and he has eyes….”
  • Try not to use templates. These teach children that all things should look the same and that their representation isn’t as good at the template.
  • Provide a creative environment. Creative materials should be available for your child. Some suggested equipment includes different types of drawing materials and papers. You can explore with paint, texters, crayons, pastels, dye, and charcoal. You could provide you child different things to draw- set up a flower in a vase or a favourite toy with the drawing utensils
  • Offer – but do not pressure. Resist the temptation to overcrowd children in organized activities in an attempt to cultivate their creativity. Allow the child time to be alone to develop the creativity that is innate in all of us.
  • Process vs Product. Celebrate the process of drawing not just the product. “Wow you worked so hard to make this, well done!”
  • Ask children questions about their work. Don’t assume you know what it is, you may be wrong. With older children ask them to tell you the story of what they have drawn.

Viktor Lowenfeld

Creative and Mental Growth

Scribbling stage

2 years

To begin with these are about movement, a kinetic behaviour.

The child is not trying to “draw” a representation of anything
Marks become more ordered.

The child begins to pay attention to marks..

Child may name marks “Dog”.

The pre schematic stage.

3-4 years

The first recognisable representations, most often this is a person. Beginning with simple circles and lines. Correct placement and form is not required, but develops.

The schematic stage

6 years

The child has a particular way of portraying things, this can be modified as new schemas are learnt.

Drawing develops order and space rules such as size and ground.


National Network for Child Care – NNCC. (1993). Creative play helps children grow. In M. Lopes (Ed.)

CareGiver News (October, p. 3). Amherst, MA: University of
Massachusetts Cooperative Extension.

What can we learn from children’s drawings? September 1, 2016 Misty Adoniou, Associate Professor in Language, Literacy and TESL, University of Canberra This article was originally published on The Conversation. Read the original article.