The Importance of drawing for toddlers

Drawing can involve a large variety of materials and be done on all sorts of surfaces – and as well as being lots of fun for all ages – it’s exceptionally important to help develop your child’s fine motor skills. It also helps develop a wide range of other developmental skills

What Skills Does Drawing Develop?

Developmental skills aided by drawing include:

  • Your child’s ability to express himself creatively rather than just copy pictures
  • Improved dexterity and fine motor skills which will be needed for school – where he will need to have the correct pencil grip and tracing skills
  • Cognitive or thinking skills and language development, as you encourage him to label and discuss his drawings.

Which Props And Toys Are Best?

18 Months – 2 Years

It’s scribble time and bigger is definitely better! Chubby crayons are best, as they are thicker and therefore easier to grip. Also larger sheets of paper should be your first choice, as your child’s movements are still predominantly gross motor-based (large muscle) rather than fine motor (small muscle). Therefore, he will need all the space you can offer for him to draw.

Try taping butchers paper to the floor, a low table or a flat fence.

And remember, it’s important to supervise his drawing during this stage, as he will be very tempted to taste his crayons etc!

Resources: butchers paper, thick crayons.

2 – 3 Years

Your child’s grip will now be changing from a fist grip to a pencil grip – though you’ll need to help him each time he draws.

It’s important to start to introduce the pencil grip now, as the longer he uses a fist grip, the harder it will be to help him make the change to the correct grip.

Keep using thick crayons, but also start to explore with other drawing utensils.

Introduce an easel and think about activities such as using chalk on black cardboard – the results are impressive.

Supervision is still required during drawing activities as your child may still think textas are quite tasty!

Resources: thick utensils such as crayons, textas, chalks and perhaps pencils. An easel or low tabletop is also essential.

3 – 5 Years

Your child’s fine motor skills will now be refined and he should be able to use the correct grip most of the time using a thin pencil or texta. Encourage him to use his low table or desk to draw – it’s great practice for school, but also let him continue to use his easel – they are great fun.

Introduce lots of different shaped, textured and sized boards or paper and fabric or bark etc. It will help stimulate his imagination and encourage him to talk about his creations. It’s also the perfect stage for artistic experimentation.

Resources: Thin pencils, textas, chalks and crayons, a table or desk and chair and a variety of art paper and resources.

5 Years Plus

During this stage your child will begin to add words to his drawings and will be quite specific about the materials he wants to use in his creations. Have fun exploring the different options with him.

Your Role in Their Play

Children will generally follow set stages in drawing, though the ages at which they reach these milestones will vary according to their exposure to drawing and how often they do it. You can encourage them from step to step, but make sure you ensure they have lots of time for ‘free drawing’ of their choice. Provide lots of praise for all their efforts – even if you have no idea what they have drawn.

Generally you should also allow your child to draw what they want. Remember, the process of drawing is more important that the end result. So do ask them to tell you about their drawing, but in the early stages – don’t ask ‘what is it?’ – it may not be anything other than a wonderful drawing. Instead encourage them to talk about the colours or shapes they have drawn.

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