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From scribbles to portraits - early childhood drawing

My little girl turned three recently. She loves dressing up, acting out her favourite stories, playing with toys, exploring, singing and drawing. Her first forays into art were 'making marks' on a page as she held a crayon in her hand and pushed it at the paper in front of her. This progressed to scribbling as her grip improved, usually back and forth scribbles then circular in motion. Next came scribbles that definitely demonstrated more control such as a drawing of round shapes on one part of the page then another part of the page. She is now drawing faces and to be honest it happened quite quickly, one day she was drawing circles and the next that circle became a face. This development in drawing led me to search for information on children's artwork and the stages that young children go through when drawing. 

My daughter attends nursery and they have explained that they encourage drawing by providing the children access to a wide selection of materials, like we do at home. And like many parents we have a collection of drawings and paintings adorning our home. I wanted to find out more about children's drawing and decided to search online for research, examples and anything else that would help me learn more. The research I have looked suggests that the earliest drawing is mark making leading to the Scribble Stage around the age of 18 months - 2 years old. Scribbling can be broken down into four sub stages (Lowenfeld, 1978)
1. Disordered scribbling
2. Longitudinal scribbling
3. Circular scribbling
4. Named scribbling

This picture was drawn by my daughter when she was 18 months. As she drew this I sat beside her asking what she was drawing.

Named scribbling
She told a story as she drew the picture - a big fish with legs and it was raining. As I teach in Foundation Stage I wrote these explanations down and gave a copy to her nursery to be included in her Learning Journey. Over the next few months her drawings have progressed from named scribbling to what is termed the pre-schematic stage (ages 3 - 4 years) which is characterised by circular images that include lines representing arms/legs. This pre-schematic stage is a stage of symbols where a drawn symbol can stand for a real thing in the environment. (Betty Edwards, 'Creative and Mental Growth') 

These stages of development are fascinating reading, particularly if you work with younger children and I shall refer to them throughout the year ahead when I return to the Foundation Stage classroom. 
For now, here is my daughter's latest drawing complete with arms and legs.



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