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a developmental look at child art
in Art
© Craig Roland 1990, 2006

As a result of the child study movement in the early sit is generally recognized that children progress through certain stages of development in their art making. Each stage maybe identified by certain characteristics that show up repeatedly in their artwork.
These stages have been linked to chronological age (particularly from 18 months to years. However, a number of factors (both internal and external) affect a child’s artistic development.Thus, to expect that a particular child at a certain age should beat a certain stage of development is inappropriate.
A number of theoretical models have been offered over the years to explain children’s artistic development.While these models may vary (e.g., in the number of proposed stages, they all propose a similar pattern of development—one of progressing from scribbling to realistic representation. Other generalizations that maybe made include:
• Socioeconomic factors seem to have little influence on the earliest stages. For example, all children begin drawing by scribbling. Moreover, girls and boys tend to draw alike at the early ages.
• Children’s drawings typically show greater development than paintings because crayons, markers, and pencils are easier to control than paint and a brush.
• Considerable overlap exists between stages.Two stages maybe represented in one work and a child may regress to a previous stage before advancing to the next stage.
• It is unlikely that a child will reach the later stages without adult support or instruction. In other words, development in art is not universal and is dependent on the environment in which a child grows up and is educated.
The following account suggests that there are four stages of children’s artistic development scribbling, pre-symbolism, symbolism, and realism. It is based on the popular view that the desired end state of this progression is graphical realism. However, this should not betaken to mean that the drawings that children typically do in earlier stages are inferior or less desirable to those accomplished in later stages. On the contrary, some of the more aesthetically pleasing works often are produced by children just beginning to discover the joys of mark making.

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