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The development of art skills

Usually children of age group 0-3 are scribbling.

Scribble – to write or draw in haste, without care, without legibility or value; make indecipherable or meaningless marks.

We have to understand 2 facts about art skills development in children:

Scribbles are a natural step in human development;

Because the child scribbles by himself, we call it “auto-learned art”.

Scribbles involve movement linked to visual pleasure; it is a combination of physical and visual feedback.

Around 18 months children begin to realize that while scribbling they make marks on the paper – it is a result of brain maturation. If the children work much with hands, this connection can appear earlier. The child sees pencil as a prolongation of his hand, he moves it around the paper and feels the resistance. He likes this sensation and repeats.

Technical explanation of scribbles

Rhoda Kellogg, a nursery teacher in the 50s, studied scribbles. She wrote a book “Analyzing children’s art”. She called the placement of scribbles on the paper “collocation” (to set or arrange in a place or position). The child discovers the relationship between scribbles and paper. Kellogg has classified the scribbles of the children the world over into 20 basic types.

By 3 years the child starts to isolate the scribbles – it is called a diagram.

Often at 3,5-4 years children start to draw mandalas (Sanskrit: circle) – in Hindu and Buddhist art any of various designs symbolizing the universe, usually circular. Mandala is a forerunner of human art (appeared in Paleolithic age – 75 000/5 000 yeas ago).

Real art

A lot of adults find that scribbles are preparation for real art. Most adults are enormously relieved when their child starts to draw suns or faces.

It would be great to admire scribbles the way they are. That is why we have to study them and encourage the child to continue scribbling. Scribbles can also be equated to an abstract art.

Adult actions and reactions

Reaction to the child’s drawing should be encouraging but not overly enthusiastic.

Sadly adults do not appreciate auto-learned art; they often try to teach the child to draw in a realistic manner. It disturbs all drawing patterns that the child is going through. Even Picasso said that adults should never teach the child how to draw, but we should learn from children. In many cases the children stop to draw at all because of our intervention. Sometimes adults draw something and ask the child to copy it. But if the adult gives up, the child goes back to drawing mandalas. Before 3-4 years children are inconvincible to draw realistically.

If the child comes and shows his work, we have to be simple and honest. Children know when we are lying. We can say: “Oh, nice scribble, good work, lovely colors! Would you like another piece of paper?” No criticism, no evaluation. Maybe the child would like to explain his work - we have to listen to him.