Welcome to the scribbling stage: Art development

In a child's life, the first three years are perhaps the most important. During this time a child develops traits in learning, attitude, and self esteem. Art can significantly contribute to a child's development. Art encourages a child to interact with his environment. It is through this interaction that learning takes place.

Somewhere between the ages of 18 months and 2 1/2 years, the average child will make his first mark on a piece of paper. Although it will look like "just a scribble", it is a milestone in his development. It is the first form of expression, his first permanent record, which will develop into drawing, painting, and eventually writing. It is very important that we as parents encourage scribbling. Our attitudes toward these early stages of expression can set the tone, encouraging avenues of communication later on.

The scribbling stage lasts until a child is four. At first, a child's marks are made at random. This phase is known as "disordered scribbling". These marks are about a child's sense of motion. That is why a toddler can look away while making his marks. After about 6 months of disordered scribbling, a child will find that there is a connection between his motions and the marks that he makes. This leads to the discovery that he has visual control over these marks. The marks become repeated in size and direction. This phase is known as "controlled scribbling". Around the age of 3 1/2, a child discovers a connection between the marks he has made and his environment. As a child begins to put a name to his marks, he has moved onto the next level, which is known as the "naming stage". Even though the scribbles may not have changed much, a child's way of thinking has. A child has moved from thinking in physical terms to thinking in imaginative terms. A child now views these scribbles as a method of communication.

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