Pebble has become very interested in drawing over the past few months. I think it is partly because her lovely Grandma has spent so much time at the craft table drawing with her, modelling different ways to draw objects, and supporting her through what can be a very frustrating task for a toddler. I think Pebble’s interest has also grown out of her own increased ability to make shapes that are meaningful to others. She can draw people by creating one smaller circle on top of another circle, with lines for arms and legs. She includes features like eyes and ‘smiles’, as well as hair. She can draw flowers, a sun, and grass.
Each success brings keen interest in making more meaningful drawings, but it’s not so easy for a toddler to make the image in their mind appear on the page. There have been many times where Pebble has asked me to help her draw a particular image and has ended up throwing down her pencil in frustration, pushing her chair from the table and letting out a howl of annoyance. But she comes back, she picks up her pencil again, because more than anything she wants to draw.
Here are eight tips for supporting drawing for young children:
- have many different drawing tools available for children to experiment with. Try pencils, textas, chalk, charcoal, felt tip pens, oil pastels and crayons of different sizes.
- provide a range of papers to create on. Try cartridge paper, computer paper, recycled paper, card board, dark paper, smooth paper, textured paper, and paper of different shapes and sizes.
- however avoid having ALL of these materials on offer at once. Provide one or two options at a time or children may be overwhelmed by choice.
- provide quality materials. Is there anything more frustrating than textas that don’t work, broken crayons that are difficult to hold and pencils with no colour?
- try drawing in many different spaces – at the table, an easel, on the floor, at a light table or using clipboards outside.
- if a child is frustrated try talking through the steps of a drawing. Look at the object that the child wants to draw, or pictures of that object. Ask if they can see any shapes that they can start with, and what might need to come next.
- for very toddlers it can be helpful to get them over a particularly tricky part of a drawing by guiding their hand, holding your hand over theirs. It is important that they don’t become reliant on this help, but instead use it as a tool to feel the movement of the drawing tool and then practice again on their own.
- using a whiteboard and whiteboard markers can give young children the freedom to easily erase and try again, reducing frustration and giving them confidence next time they draw.
For more great ideas for drawing with children read Ursula Kolbe’s ‘Rapunzel’s Supermarket’, one of my very favourite art resource books for children. Or visit my Drawing Pinterest board to see how others have been supporting their children’s drawing.
Have you been drawing with your children lately? Do tell!