Magazine article USA TODAY

Scribbles Can Measure Kids' Development. (Child Development)

Magazine article USA TODAY

Scribbles Can Measure Kids' Development. (Child Development)

Article excerpt

When is a scribble not just a scribble? Child development experts say kids' scribbles can indicate to a parent the progress in toddlers' learning, demonstrating the relationship between their motor and intellectual skills. Typically, toddlers draw to see what kinds of lines, shapes, and colors they can create. Drawing their own symbols through scribbling is a major milestone in children's intellectual development. In fact, a toddler's drawing is a direct result of fine motor coordination of the arm and the hand, as well as a reflection of a burgeoning imagination and intellect.

While they know that toddlers love to pick up crayons and make marks on paper--and walls and floors, too--many parents are unsure as to what the drawings represent. According to Jaime Goldfarb, Director of Product Development at Brilliant Beginnings, Long Beach, Calif., "A child's first scribbles are a sign that they are beginning to realize that those marks on the paper stand for something significant, like words and letters."

Because the pace of motor development varies from child to child, there is a wide range of what to expect in analyzing toddlers' scribbles:

* Before their second birthday, toddlers scribble frequently, but rarely attribute any representational significance to their creations.

* Two-year-olds also scribble with enthusiasm, but they sometimes end by telling parents or caregivers what their drawings are supposed to be--i.e., mom, a tree, or a dog.

* Older two-year-olds are typically drawing squiggles and making simple shapes on paper. …

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