- Children before the age of 2 definitely enjoy the process of expressing themselves in any way. The aesthetic experience of rhythmic movement combined with the observable consequences of action reinforces the child's involvement in early graphic activities such as drawing and painting.
- Children aged 2, 3, and 4 are not interested in making art, so they often draw or scribble directly over a graphic idea, just as adults perceive art.
- Children from an early age tend to picture meaningful people and events in their lives, both happy and sad. A knowledgeable art teacher recognizes this and encourages a child's natural interest while helping them gradually expand their understanding of the world of art.
- Children who have experienced personal trauma sometimes find some resolution for themselves through the process of focusing on these themes in their art-making and dealing with the traumatic event in a safe, non-threatening medium they have control over. A child's ability to deal with difficult life situations by expressing, manipulating, and controlling their world through art is the source of the therapeutic dimension of the arts. Many arts educators emphasize this ability of the arts.
- Teachers generally know what to expect and plan for when preparing for an arts program, and should be aware of each child's unique educational needs.
- Presents a simplified version of stage theory describing three general stages of children's graphic development known as the manipulation stage (2-5 years), the symbol-making stage (6-9 years), and the pre-adolescent stage (10 years).
- Significant differences in artistic development also appear between quite broad stages.
- The first stage is when children initially manipulate material in an exploratory and random way. Later in this stage, the manipulations become more and more organized until the children can title the signs they have made. In the next stage, children develop a set of distinct symbols to represent objects in their experience. These symbols eventually relate to the environment within the drawing. Finally, in the pre-adolescent stage, children become critical of their work and express themselves in self-conscious ways.
- Although the term graffiti is accepted by psychologists and art educators in relation to children's drawings, it is actually a misnomer. Children's scribbles are not the dictionary signs of haste, carelessness, and meaninglessness. The marks made by children are more accurately described as ‘pre-symbolic graphic investigations’. As Judith Burton of Columbia University's School of Education points out, the word 'doodle' refers to behavior that is not serious or orderly, a task that symbolizes what needs to be overcome as soon as possible.
- Through pre-schematic efforts, children from 1 to 3 or 4 years of age develop a repertoire or vocabulary of graphic representations made primarily for the kinesthetic rewards inherent in the manipulation of line, color, and texture.
- Children who have the opportunity to scribble develop the ability to create different lines, marks, dots and shapes in the first 2-3 years of life. This repertoire of graphic representations is later utilized by the child to invent visual symbols in the form of pictures. A child who develops a variety of graphic displays while scribbling will manifest this visual vocabulary, creating symbolic drawings that become richer and more sophisticated as the child matures. Children who seldom engage in early graphic activities usually demonstrate a narrower vocabulary in drawing and occasionally need considerable encouragement to continue developing their drawing skills.
- Doodling is the beginning of the manipulation phase and usually lasts until the child goes to kindergarten. How long it takes to create something that looks like scribbles depends on the child's muscular development, intelligence, parental encouragement, and time devoted to practice. Eventually, many children tend to work out their marks in large circular patterns, and learn to diversify their lines so that they become swept or rippled, delicate or bold. When the child is able to bring the moving line back to its starting point, the control greatly increases, leading to the creation of a mandala.
- According to Rhoda Kellogg's analysis of numerous children's drawings, the very diverse circular patterns or mandalas appear as the final step between scribbles and representations.
- Even children between the ages of 2 and 5 are beginning to learn about the nature of art media. They are attracted to the substances around them, their numerous textures, colors, smells, tastes, weights and other characteristics. They are interested in art materials because of their intrinsic visual and tactile properties. What a thrilling experience it is for a child to learn that colors change when mixed and that they can be the subject of change.
- Preschoolers not only demonstrate their 2D design skills, they often learn how to create 3D designs. Some children, by the age of 3, are experimenting with sand and sometimes clay.
- Even kids who practice at home with art materials and create pretty designs tend to regress when they enter kindergarten at the age of four or five. (Because of concentration in social life, adaptation to unfamiliar environment, etc.)
- Viewing artwork and learning about its history and context can translate children's innate interest in these topics and ideas into integrated learning about the arts.
- Children face unavoidable spatial problems in painting and other two-dimensional work.
- Young children lack the skills to express their thoughts through visual forms, but many children are inventive when it comes to devising relatively complex means to express their emotional and intellectual reactions to life.
- Children who continue to make art through the typical sign-making age of 6, 7, 8 usually precede many schemata that change and acquire sophistication and detail as children's understanding progresses. Some children focus almost exclusively on the human figure. Others draw a lot of stuff. Because of the time and effort required to develop advanced schemas, most children can draw some objects much better than others. It depends on what each individual develops during the schematic year.
- Many stereotypes are presented to children through mass media or cartoons. Teachers can discourage children from using stereotypes by suggesting that they draw a story using stereotypes as characters.
- As it is unavoidable for children to be exposed to adult graphic images, many of which may be of low artistic quality, it is recommended that teachers expose children to high-quality works of art. Slides, reproductions, films and great art books are readily available.
- When an individual gives up drawing, development virtually stops at that level.
- At about age 11, as important skills develop, children become critically aware of the quality of their art work. If your drawings and paintings seem more closely related to your childhood than your upcoming adolescence, you may become self-conscious, dissatisfied with your work, and draw less or even quit altogether.
- The dissatisfaction with the best efforts of children aged 9 and 10 is the beginning of art.
The solution to the problem of declining pre-teen art production seems relatively clear. The pre-adolescent period is very important for a child's artistic development. When they have made enough progress during this time to be able to engage in self-criticism, they may not feel that their work is too short.
For children to continue making art into adulthood, they must work diligently while mastering the techniques and expressive conventions of adult art that bridge the gap between the children's and adult art worlds. Children easily learn the many graphic images that are part of popular culture. Unless education is provided, many children will never develop beyond this level in their production and appreciation. It is an art educator's responsibility that raises this level of visual impact by giving children examples.
Drawing as storytelling, expression, and performance
Myungja Anna Koh