Parents often ask about their children’s drawings, paintings and collages, and whether they are developmentally appropriate.

All children draw whether it is in the sand with a stick or on paper with various drawing tools. Drawing is universal and follows a predictable developmental pattern.

In the preschool we witness the first three stages of development. As each child develops at their own pace it must be remembered that the age of the child at various stages may differ from individual to individual.

At 2 years the child is at the scribbling stage with a variety of marks being made for the pure enjoyment of the activity. Toddlers will discover the connection between the movements that they make and the marks that are formed. They will begin to deliberately repeat these movements.

At 3 to 4 years the child enters the pre-schematic stage, the first purposeful representation of form, with the human body being portrayed first, usually just a circle with two lines for legs. The well-known tadpole or amoeba. Eyes and a mouth will be added later and over time hair, a nose and other features. Children begin to name their drawings although we may not see what they have described. It is usually only by age 4 that children begin to draw a separate body. Children draw what they know, not what they see. Recognisable forms begin to emerge in children’s drawings and paintings as their eye-hand coordination and fine motor control improve such as hair, fingers and a nose. The task of drawing becomes more intentional with a combination of shapes depicting a recognisable form.

At age 5 to 6 years the child enters the schematic stage where they spontaneously express what they know using a particular schema that they have developed. The schema may be modified but is a representation of what the child knows about an object. A baseline is evident at this stage of development with animals, people etc drawn standing on the grass or the floor. The same schema is used for different family members although they will differ in size. A body portrait will include many details, hands and the correct number of fingers, feet and clothing. Embellishments such as flowers, trees, pets etc are added.