Children’s drawings are their earliest attempts at writing and an important phase in their overall development. It is a phase when they represent what they have experienced with their senses when drawing in dry or wet sand, with water on a dry wall or on paper. It is not easy to use stubby and clumsy little fingers (2-4 years) to say what they mean, and that is why a scribble can be a fire engine, a bat or scramble eggs.
Converting thoughts onto paper is a skill that takes years to develop and goes hand in hand with ‘reading’ their own pictures by looking at their works of art and reconstructing their own thoughts and feelings before saying it out aloud. Children only draw what they are aware of If a child is not aware of a windmill, he does not draw a windmill.
This is why children’s drawings are not only an important step towards writing and reading a few years later, their drawings are also a way of telling a caring and observant parent and teacher what is going on in there (heart and head).
Drawings can ‘talk’? Yes they do. In the early years drawings, paintings, a collage or any other form of free creative activity, talks louder than words.
Children do not just draw things from their environment; they also draw the most important person in their whole wide world – themselves. It is their self-portraits that tell you something about their development – if children are not aware of their hands, they don’t draw hands. If they aren’t aware that they are standing on solid ground, they do not draw a grounding line underneath a figure. If they are not aware of their ears, they neither draw them nor use them to listen the first time. If they do not spontaneously draw a neck, it is a sure way of telling that the child is not ready to read or write yet.
A drawing is not a diagnostic instrument, but for most observant teachers and parents a child’s drawing can tell you which part of the brain still needs wiring and which parts are already wired well.