- having an idea of the desired outcome (a goal),
- translating the idea into a motor plan,
- translating the motor plan into a commands to the muscles to produce the movements required to achieve the goal.
The basic graphic skills a young child should acquire before learning to print letters
The ability to draw relatively smooth and straight lines of different lengths and in different directions
Ben (Gr R, second term) draws relatively straight and smooth horizontal lines. His drawing of a person, although it lacks detail, also has straight lines drawn with confidence.
Ability to draw smooth curved lines and circles of different sizes
Roan (Gr R, first term) has good control over her drawing of curved shapes. The lines are smooth and confident.
This Gr R learner has difficulty drawing curved and straight line shapes with a smooth action.
Ability to draw/copy squares and rectangles
Children with good graphic skills can draw/copy rectangles and squares of a of a particular size and position on the page.
Roan is able to copy a square and rectangles with attention to size and orientation. In this example her ability to copy a rectangle is better than her drawing of a square.
Here you see Will's (4y 6m) attempt to copy a square and a rectangle. He has good control over drawing vertical and horizontal lines, but is not able to pre-plan the length of the lines to match the example. His various attempts at drawing provide the practice he needs to translate the visual information about line length into a motor plan to reproduce the lines.
Ability to draw a rectangle with the eyes closed
Children with good graphic skills can draw rectangles with their eyes closed. To be able to do this the child needs to pre-plan the movements, and keep in mind the length of the first and second lines in order to complete the drawing accurately. Children who tend to rely on ongoing visual feedback to control their movements can often draw a rectangle with the eyes closed and will produce lines that are in fact straighter and more fluent when over-reliance on visual monitoring is prevented.
Will (4y 6m) also managed to draw a rectangle after two failed attempts
Ability to combine the basic lines and shapes
Learners with good graphic skills will combine shapes and lines to represent people, animals and objects. This involves careful planning of the size and position of the lines and shapes relative to one another.
Ability to use straight and curved lines to write letters and numbers
Roan has learned the write the letters of the alphabet using the correct sequence of strokes for most of the letters. Typically she has less control over the size of her letters, but does show fairly good control over letter spacing - which reflects her understanding of letter spaces and start position for each letter.
Ability to draw small shapes using effective finger movements
Children with good graphic skills will incorporate small shapes into their drawings.
Children acquire the basic graphic skills through dedicated practice
Young children with good graphic skills have usually spent quite a lot of time drawing over a number of years. This experience provides the child with the necessary practice to acquire the sensorimotor control needed for the basic graphic skills. Importantly children with good drawing skills have learned to use a do-check-do approach to improving their motor skills.
Learning to draw a circle - a case study in drawing development over several years
Children learn to draw closed curved shapes at a very early age. Circular marks are a very prominent feature of toddler drawings.
T (2 years) spiral drawings
Do-check-do and Smart Practice Children with good drawing abilities will repeat the process of do-check-do many times over the course of days and weeks and over time will develop the ability to draw well shaped circles of different sizes.
HWG Developing Graphic Skills: Assessment Handbook
A 45 page PDF download. Purchase here
The HWG Developing Graphic Skills: Assessment Handbook provides a structured approach to assessment of the different aspects of completing selected graphic tasks: attention, following instructions, evaluating own work, motor control and motor planning.
Detailed instructions are provided for each tasks along with templates and checklists for recording all aspects of a child's performance on the task.
Working through the assessment tasks provides parents and teachers with insight into the child's abilities and difficulties and provides direction for selecting remedial tasks.
What are the basic graphic skills?
The assessment process
Drawing long lines down the page
Drawing long lines across the page
Drawing radiating lines
Drawing medium lines in all directions
Drawing circles in grid
Copying different sized circles
Copying a rectangle and a square
Drawing a square with eyes closed
Drawing crossed and diagonal line shapes
Drawing small circles in boxes
Drawing shapes in small boxes
More about a HWG subscription Just $20 for a 12 months subscription
HWG Developing Graphic Skills Assessment Manual (with templates)
Training sitting for drawing and handwriting (12 page PDF download)
Teaching handwriting in kindergarten - a stroke based approach (with PDF templates)