Creativity Through Art

Creativity Through Art

Article extracts from

Art is only one way children can express themselves but because it develops before writing, or abstract thinking, adults can see creativity expressed in art more easily with young children.

The following is a brief overview of the developmental stages of children’s art. Please keep in mind that the ages given are general guidelines and that children will enter and leave each stage at their own pace.

Scribbling stage (approximately 2 to 4 years)

In this stage, children

  • Are amazed at their ability to make marks.
  • Spend much time practicing motor skills.
  • Draw circles first, then squares and other geometric shapes.
  • Begin trying to create (draw) their world.
  • May want to point to and name parts of their drawings.

Pre-schematic stage (late preschool to approximately age 7)

At this stage, children

  • Make first attempts to represent people or objects. Efforts are recognisable to adults.
  • Are fascinated with the wide variety of colours.
  • Achieve obvious connections between different parts of a drawing.
  • Value signs of approval from teachers and peers.
  • Are easily discouraged and fatigued.
  • Are active, hands on, eager to learn, and self-centred.
  • Are highly imaginative yet tend to focus on one idea at a time.
  • Search for ways to represent their ideas.

Schematic stage(approximately 7 to 9 years)

Children at this stage

  • Increase the use of symbols, such as a heart for love or dark colours to represent night.
  • Are less self-centred.
  • Still do not have a realistic understanding of their environment. For example, the sky in a child’s picture may not meet the ground at the horizon.
  • Show improved eye-hand coordination and fine motor skills. Have an increased attention span.
  • Begin developing a sense of humour.
  • Divide by gender in play.
  • Represent special characteristics for each person or object in their drawings. For example, if Mom wears glasses and has curly hair, the child will include these characteristics in the drawing.

Realistic stage (9 to 12 years)

Children at this stage

  • Are greatly affected by peer influence.
  • Increase the amount of detail and use of symbols in drawings.
  • Have expanded individual differences. Begin to develop a set of values. Want to do things “right.”

Pseudo-naturalistic stage (12-14 years)

At this stage, children

  • Are highly critical of the products they make.
  • Use a more adult-like mode of expression.
  • Experience a period of great individual differences physically, mentally, emotionally, and socially.
  • Have art class available only as an elective in school. For many children, this will be the last opportunity to have art instruction.
  • Experience a period of heightened self-consciousness.
  • Children in this age group often feel a need to conform to their peers, which can stifle their creativity.

Parent and Teacher Pointers

Children want their art to look like the object they are looking at. Failing in this attempt can be discouraging. Children need to be taught that art is not limited to copying what they see. Adults can show children other styles of art (such as impressionistic or cubist art) to help them see that the free expression of ideas and emotions is more important than creating a mirror image.

Tips for parents and teachers to help children think creatively

Avoid projects that can be completed in only one way (paint-by-numbers, kits to be assembled, for example).

  • Do not use art as indoor recess or as a reward for behaving well. Art activities should be well thought out and planned.
  • Make a wide variety of materials available to children.
  • Suggest options, but let children make the final decisions for art projects.
  • Ask children about their art while they are creating it, not just at the end. Ask children to tell you about the work (as opposed to guessing, possibly incorrectly, from an adult’s point of view).
  • Praise the effort, use of color, and uniqueness rather than just the final product — the trip is more important than the destination.
  • Display art at a child’s eye level. Encourage individual expression.
  • Avoid the regimented use of materials and adult-directed projects. A classroom full of samples of individual creative­ ness (as opposed to 23 identical pieces hanging in a row) indicates that the teacher has given children choices and has focused on the process rather than the product.