Art Development in Young Children

Art is an important part of childhood development. It is not only fun, it is very educational and helps with the development of all sorts of skills, including creativity, hand and eye coordination, and fine motor skills. Art activities also promote social awareness, logic, and individual expression. Children develop their art talents in a specific sequence of stages, at their own pace, beginning with scribbling.
Most children are introduced to crayons sometime during the toddler years and begin to create random scribbles. Random scribbling is usually not an effort to produce art, but rather exploration of the cause and effect relationship of the toddler’s arm movement and the crayon marks on the paper.

As a toddler gains more control over his large and small muscles and begins to understand his own control of the crayon, the controlled scribbling stage begins. Circles are very common during this stage, as well as lines and patterns of the two. Controlled scribbling is the foundation for letter formation in the future, as well as all the other stages of art development.

When children begin to develop language skills and a basic vocabulary, they start to name their artwork. Named scribbling usually begins in the early preschool years. Children talk about what they are drawing and will often name similar scribbles as completely different things.

Soon, children will begin to combine their controlled scribbles into more recognizable shapes. For example, a circle with two lines coming down from it may be a person, while a circle with four lines may represent a pet. During this stage, which usually occurs around three or four years of age, pictures of mom and dad may look exactly the same and the dog and cat may look alike as well.

During the preschool and early school age years, children develop patterns of drawing. They use certain shapes to create people, houses, and other things they may draw. Around the age of five, most children have developed a symbol for the things they see everyday, like people, a house, or a tree. These symbols will be the base for most of the child’s art and he may use size, color, and other attributes to show different feelings and ideas.

Children next begin to organize their art subjects into more reasonable orders, usually creating a baseline to work from rather than drawing many different objects in a jumbled array. By about ten or eleven, most children move away from symbolic drawing and attempt to make their art more realistic looking. During this stage, many children are discouraged by the difficult task of realistic art and shift their interests to other areas.

It is important to encourage your child throughout all stages of art development. Provide your child with plenty of age appropriate art supplies and make art time a regular part of your routine. The Guidecraft 4 in 1 floor easel is a great art product that can be used for years. As your child gets older, consider art instruction to keep the love of drawing alive.