If you read about children’s drawing you will become aware that the authors tend to be either child psychologists or art educators. Their different perspectives are not altogether compatible. This chapter begins with a review of these different perspectives before looking at how they might guide the early years educator in helping children to develop their drawing.
The psychologist is examining a child’s drawing as evidence of what is going on inside their head. When they witness changes in the drawing it is seen as a change of the child’s perception. Measurements of intelligence, and states of mental stress, have both been made on the basis of drawing, but ironically they tend to be related to the degree of realism portrayed.
Numerous studies of the development of children’s drawings have been made throughout this century (see Thomas and Silk 1990, for a useful review). They are usually different in the detail of their findings but they generally conform to a pattern that starts with:
Stage 1 Scribbles.
Stage 2 Symbolic shapes that are given names.
Stage 3 Descriptive drawing based on a degree of analysis.
Progress is generally seen to be made by acquiring techniques and skills towards a ‘photographic’ realism. This is not surprising as the research focuses on the drawing of objects. Correlations are made on this basis between ages, stages and intellect.