At what Stage of Art is your Child’s Scribbles in?

Published on June 5, 2015

Did you know that the scribbling did by your 2 years old also has a meaning? Yes, it’s true. There are different stages in ‘Toddler Art’, which signify their mental development. Read on to identify the stage that your child is in and learn how to encourage them to move on to the next.

There are several stages in the development of a child in art. This theory assumes that these stages occur in a sequential order and the child progresses from one stage to the next. However, like all theories, these should not be taken literally as growth happens at different rates in different children – which is normal.

1.Scribbling Stage ( 2-4 years):

During this stage, the child will make random marks, dots and lines. Here, they enjoy scribbling purely as it gives them a chance to move their arms freely. He will use the drawing tool as if he has no connection to it i.e. the hand and the eye will not be always coordinated. He will simply move the arm. There are three sub-stages here ::

  • Random Scribbling – When the child’s hand and eye movements are not coordinated.
  • Controlled Scribbling – When the child looks at his drawings and tries to ‘draw’ in a controlled manner.
  • Naming of Scribbling – When the child scribbles and gives names to his drawings, e.g. – cow, dog, sun, mummy etc. The scribbles might look the same to us, but they have meaning for the child. It is very important to ‘accept’ the child’s drawing and encourage him, rather than ‘correct’ him during this stage.

In order to enhance creativity and imagination, it is advisable to give the child a big (very important for free hand movement) sheet of paper and some thick, dark colored crayons (as they are easy to grip and see). Providing them with coloring books can actually inhibit their thought process and curtail creativity, so do not waste your money on them.

2. Pre-Schematic Stage (3 to 7 years):

A child enters the second stage in art when he represents objects in his environment using symbols. These symbols are mostly formed using circles or squares or lines. The child has no concept of ‘up’ (sky is up) or ‘down’ (grass is down). Things are drawn haphazardly all over the paper, in fact, the paper might be turned around several times while drawing.

Again, encourage the child to draw and provide him different types of materials for exploration. As his concepts develop, more and more details will start emerging. It is very important to ‘not’ correct the child’s drawings – give him options, but let him decide.

The other stages are Schematic, Transitional and Realism Stage that take place from 6 to 12 years and over.

So enjoy your child’s scribbles, pay more attention to them, identify the stage that they are in…. and most importantly – HAVE FUN!

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