Creativity is considered as a bridge to learning. When your child is curious and creative, he/she can come up with the solutions to the problems which she encounters in every day. Creativity helps your child to become inquisitive, thoughtful and a confident learner in her later years of schooling.
An important way that your child is using her creativity is by experimenting with the art materials. As she holds that crayon and starts scribbling, you will see that her art and writing pattern changes from time to time and becomes more complex and controlled as she grows.
There is hardly any difference between art and early writing skills for very young children. At the first stage, its all about just holding the crayons and doing all the possible scribble acts which can be done with them. Then your child starts figuring out the link between holding the crayon and the lines which she made on the paper. It implies that she is experiencing the power of cause and effect. This is really very exciting stage for her when she feels that she can make a mark on the world. Everyday growth gives her the control on her muscles in her hands and fingers and lets her move the crayon or brush with a purpose or goal in her mind.
The child goes through four stages of drawing and writing as she grows from 1.5 years to 3 years of age, though its not a proximate time line as every child has her own growth pattern and she learns to do the things in her own speed.
Stage 1: Random scribbling (15 months to 2 1/2 years)
At this stage, children are just learning to figure out their movements and the lines or scribbles that they make on the paper. They usually are the result of the movement of the large muscles from their shoulders. At this stage children also enjoy their own feedback which they get from their senses; how the crayon feels, the smell of the paint, or the feel of the texture etc. This sensory information may be more for other children and they may not enjoy the art activities at this stage. They start tolerating more sensory experiences later on and the activities like finger painting can be introduced into their routine.
Stage 2: Controlled Scribbling (2 years to 3 years)
The scribbles become more complex and controlled as children develop a better control over their pincer palmer muscles (muscles in their fingers and hands). Very young children may create the same marks on the paper repeatedly- open circles, curved or horizontal lines, vertical or diagonal lines etc. Over the time, these young children (toddlers) learn to hold the crayon or marker between their first finger and the thumb.
Stage 3: Lines and Patterns (2 1/2 years to 3 1/2 years
By this age, children understand that writing is a result of lines, curves and repeated patterns. They also try to imitate this pattern in their own writing. You may see some components of letters in their drawings which may not be actual letters. These may be dots, lines or curves. At this stage child is very excited to know that his scribbles or drawing conveys some meaning. We may not sometimes understand her drawings but for your child, these drawings have a strong perception. This is an important step towards early reading and writing skills.
Stage 4: Pictures of Objects or People (3 years to 5 years)
We, as adults want to see actual pictures when the child draws something. But for a child, this is a process of acquiring thinking skill, to hold an image in her mind and then representing it to a piece of paper, and it takes some time to develop this skill. At first, all the children name their creations. It means that they have finished the pictures which they were making and now they are labeling their masterpieces with the names of animals, people or some other familiar objects. This also changes over the time.
Soon, you will see that the child has started bringing more details in her pictures with prior planning in her mind. She has more control over her muscles and over her thinking process now. Children’s initial pictures usually consist of vague circles. For example the picture of sun with irregular circle and lots of rays coming out. Or you can see the drawing of the face with roughly recognizable features.
Once your child masters the symbolic thinking, she begins to purposefully draw the images. Now your child understands the difference between writing and drawing.
Stage 5: Letter and Word Practice (3 to 5 years)
By this stage, children have had the experience with letters and print matter and they are also beginning to use the letters in their own writing. They also start copying familiar letters and shapes. Later they also start understanding the difference between letters and the words formed out of them. This becomes as an exciting milestone for your child in beginning to understand that print and text have their distinct meanings too.
Tips to Encourage Art and Writing Skills:
• Art should be made a regular part of playtime. Try to offer easy-to-grip crayons, thick coloured pencils, and non toxic washable markers. Include washable paints, child-friendly paper scissors, glue, and soft dough to enhance their creativity as the child grows.
• Don’t give many instructions. Let the child experiment and explore the opportunities herself. A child will be creative if she has the power to express herself in her own way. This freedom makes the child more confident, competent and smart. But you can sit beside the child to guide and enjoy her creations.
• Notice the process of art activity, not just the product. As an adult we pretend to praise them for their success or completion of the art work, but it is equally important to appreciate the efforts of the child which she is putting in this whole procedure.
• Let the child experiment with various art materials like sponge, brushes, cotton, buds, string etc. and not only crayons or pencils. Try to experiment with different textures like wet chalk or dry chalk. You can add powdered glitter or paint to their art work. You can also teach the child to mix various colours to make new shades.
• Use art as the means to help your child in expressing her strong feelings.
• Encourage your child’s attempts of achieving early writing skills. Introduce your child to various letters, words and print matter in her daily routine.
• And most important is, display your child’s art work and writing. It shows to your child that her work is valued and she feels more confident after having the sense of achievement.