Why drawing in kindergarten is very important

Opportunities for free drawing time (and some more structured tasks) has many advantages

Getting involved in drawing projects trains / develops a child's ability and willingness to:

  • sit and work at a project,
  • explore different ways of  making marks,
  • arrange lines and shapes on a page
  • develops the strength and coordination in the shoulder, wrist and fingers for engaging in handwriting tasks. 

The only way to improve finger action for handwriting is to practice drawing small shapes. Other fine motor tasks will not do the trick. This is because motor learning and strength training are very specific - you learn and improve on tasks that you practice. This is called training specificity.

Drawing develops the basic graphic skills needed for handwriting 

The basic graphic skills refer to a set of abilities children need to acquire to prepare them for learning to draw shapes and lines in different directions and to learn to print letters and numbers. 

They basic graphic skills include:

Using shoulder/elbow actions for drawing long lines, and moving the hand across the page when writing.

shoulder 3.jpg   shoulder 4.jpg

Drawing straight and curved lines of different lengths in all directions

R-6y-sun-rays-1.jpg   Lines down and cross Gr 1.jpg

Drawing small shapes using effective finger actions

R 5y 9m big fish and little fishes.jpg   R 18-02-14 Circles_1.jpg

Read more: What are the basic graphic skills?  Also Assessment of the basic graphic skills: a manual 

Drawing is about pattern making

Drawing activities allow children to explore color, line curvature, length and direction, how lines can be used to draw shapes and how how shapes can be combined in different ways to make patterns and represent people, animals and objects. 

Drawing helps children to develop the  visual-spatial skills needed for mathematics. Pattern making is also an important aspect of developing mathematical ideas in young children.  

     R 5y 2m  ducks.jpg    .R 5y 2m ducks 2.jpg

Drawing provides children with ways to represent ideas, things and people,  record events and express their ideas and feelings

  R aged 5: Daddy when he is very sick

R 5y daddy when he is very sick.jpg

W 4 years: My family


Drawing supports  the child's ability to explore  different ways of thinking about the world

James 5 years: Citiscape 

6 years citiscape 2.jpg

Drawing supports the child's imagination 

The images children encounter in their everyday lives sometimes represent people and things in a realistic manner, but  often they do not. Young children's books are full of pictures filled with imaginative ideas and illustrations of people and animals that are fanciful and creative. 

Children love to create fanciful characters. Here are some monsters and fanciful animals.

J 5y wobbly monster_1.jpg

Different ways in which children use drawing

  • Exploring and making patterns           
  • Map making 
  • Expressing feelings
  • Capturing movement 
  • Showing relationships between things – bigger smaller
  • Showing how things are connected 
  • Illustrating events and telling stories 
  • Representing ideas in a visual way to promote understanding 
anna 6y 6_1.jpg

Doodling - a very valuable occupation 

Adults often use doodling and mind maps to explore ideas and organize their thoughts. Doodling has has also been shown to enhance concentration and provide a way to organize thoughts and ideas.

Roan loves to doodle. Any piece of paper is an invitation to explore shapes and letters. 

R 5y 9m a doodle_1.jpg

An alternative definition of doodling: "to make spontaneous marks in order to support thinking; to use simple visual language to engage three learning modalities; to use simple visual language to activate the mind’s eye and support creativity, problem-solving and innovation." The  Doodle Revolutionary's Manifesto

For more on the value of doodling go the Sunni Brown's website and watch her presentation on TED.

Resources and references

Ainsworth, S., Prain, V., & Tytler, R. (2011). Drawing to Learn in Science, 333(August), 1096–1097.

Visual literacry and picture story books 


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