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Between the ages of two and four years old children begin scribbling. They hold the entire crayon in their hand and use whole-arm movements to scribble. At first they are random marks as they gain control and enjoy the sensory experience. After a while they learn to control their movements and the scribbles are more controlled and intentional.
Between the age of four and seven children gain the ability to copy shapes, like a square and triangle. You’ll notice your child turning their paper or walking around their art. They enjoy simple drawings of people and objects. They may prefer a particular color and use only that color for all drawings. Continue to provide lots of exploratory play and experimentation during this stage.
Children will start formal drawing lessons at this stage, as they will be between 7-9 years old. Their drawing will reflect activities from their daily lives, and instead of being realistic, they are more schematic (meaning representative). They are ready to learn how to draw skylines, baselines, and basic overlapping of shapes. Their drawings will have “plane elevation” which simply means they draw the side of an object, like a table with fruit on top versus drawing it at an angle. You'll also see drawings with “x-ray” view (like a house cut in half with a view of rooms). Children may not be ready for color mixing, shading, or 3D shapes yet.
Between 9 -12 years old your child will become more advanced in creating overlapping objects. They pay more attention to details and want their pictures to look more realistic. As a result, they may become more sensitive to their drawings and prefer not to show others. They will have a greater desire to learn advanced skills. Your child may still draw objects from one angle, but effort will be focused more on adding details that make objects look more realistic. Nature journaling is a perfect place for them to practice these skills without feeling pressure to perform.
The final stage occurs between 12-14 years old when children are developmentally ready for advanced concepts, like shading and perception. Although they may have been capable at an earlier age, it is always wise to wait if you sense that your child is frustrated or does not understand. They simply need more time and practice with previous concepts. In this stage they may also accentuate masculine/feminine features in their drawings. This is a reflection of the bodily change they will be going through and is completely normal.


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