Ms. Sonia Agarwal Bajaj

By Ms. Sonia Agarwal Bajaj 

Three-year-olds are brimming with creativity and imagination, but many of us may miss out on celebrating or even facilitating this creative artistic energy. Scribbling is not just a random act but is considered to be an official milestone in the child’s cognitive and motor development. It is also the start of them creatively expressing themselves on a medium.

While as adults we may not always be able to seek value or decipher the meaning and intent behind haphazard lines on a piece of paper, these scribbles are valuable. The stage of scribbles is a critical stage to foster imagination, visual space planning, and confidence to express creatively.

How is scribbling a motor milestone for children?

For any individual to be able to hold an object with their thumb and their index finger, their pincer grip needs to be formed. This grip is not entirely formed until the child is 5-6 years of age. The pincer grip is crucial for us to be able to hold our writing instruments correctly. Children can still make marks, patterns, and designs before this grip is entirely formed by adjusting the way and type of writing instrument they use.

Below are a few things we as parents and early educators do to give our budding artists a larger canvas to express themselves creatively:

(1) Show genuine enthusiasm: While it’s sometimes difficult to show excitement for work that does not look like a “masterpiece” it is often because we are comparing it to an artist or a skill set that has been developed over decades. We need to compare apples and apples. When we do so, we will realise that our little one has truly outdone themselves.

(2) Explore different mediums & surfaces: Encourage the child to explore a spectrum of surfaces and mediums to do art with. Using chalk, fat crayons, finger paints, ice paints, and food colours on a spectrum of surfaces such as paper, chalkboard, glass windows, floors, cardboard, etc.

(3) Label the colours: There is no better time to help children learn the name of colours than while using them.

(4) Join the Fun while giving them artistic freedom: Children are inclusive by nature and enjoy the activity twice as much if they are a part of it. A parent needs to resist the need to control their creativity. It’s a good idea to take separate pieces of paper or demarcate sections on a common surface. While doing so, we must keep checking in on the child and ensure that we are not making them feel uncomfortable.

(5) Discuss the artwork: After positively reinforcing the child’s effort, it is important to take a minute to discuss both of your artworks. Ask the child what they have made. If the child says Dinosaur and you cannot spot the dinosaur in their swiggles, ask them where is the head of the dinosaur. Is it this one or this one? Once they tell you where it is, again reinforce their effort with active enthusiasm. You can also choose to describe your artwork to them to ensure they feel like equals.

(6) Frame Artwork Proudly: Sometimes actions speak louder than words. For the child to feel the pride frame some of their memorable artwork in their room or yours. This allows us the opportunity for us to not just celebrate their artwork on any other day but also witness their artistic growth.

I hope with this article, you never look at your child’s scribbles the same way and those swishy doodles have found new and deeper meaning for you and your little one