How many times have you heard a child, sitting with of a blank piece of paper, say, "I can't draw it!"?
Actually, you've probably heard many adults say that as well. While we may feel this at times, the truth is, "Yes, you can draw!"
It all comes down to self-confidence. Drawing should be about enjoying the process rather than worrying about what the end piece will look like and worst still ... what others will think of it!
So how can you engage children to move from an I-can't to an I-can-draw-attitude? Here's a few tips which I've found helpful.
An excellent way to overcome "drawer's block" (the equivalent of "writer's block" ... yes, I've been playing with words, again! :o ) is to look what others have done. After all, there's no sense in 're-inventing the wheel'.
If someone else has drawn an object you'd like to draw, have a look at how they've done it.
The theory behind this is we can learn from others. We can see what they've done, how they've done it and then use their ideas to inspire our own original works of art.
Provide examples of things for children to look at. It's so hard to draw, for example, a fly when all you have is your memory of what a fly looks like. This is especially true for children who are still building an awareness and understanding of the world around them.
Examples may come in the form of book illustrations, pictures from the internet, photographs, real items (e.g., probably not such a good idea if the child is wanting to draw a crocodile, bear, lion .... )
Talk about what can be seen in the example. What shapes make up the object/creature? (e.g., The body is an oval shape. The head is more circular.) How are the shapes positioned? (e.g., the circle is positioned on top of the oval and is slightly off to the left side). How many legs can you see?
Once the child has drawn the basic shapes which form the creature, their confidence will grow and they'll be able to add the details (e.g., eyes, hair, legs, etc) more easily.
Sometimes, all that is needed is a little support just to find the starting position and then they're off and running ... I mean ... drawing!
Provide encouragement. The simple statement, "You're working hard" acknowledges the way in which the child is trying and will often inspire the child to continue with the task and try even harder.
Provide plenty of resources which include:
- Time. Drawing skills, like other life skills, take time to develop. The more you draw, the more confidence you gain and the more refined your skills become. Children need plenty of uninterrupted time to be creative and to draw.
- Resources. Ensure there are plenty of drawing materials for children to access, including paper, pens, pencils, pastels, paints ... (Hmm.... all things starting with 'p') ... charcoal, crayons, chalk ... (okay, I'll leave the rest of the list to you as I'm sure you'll come up with a million things to draw with). The most important thing is to have resources available for children to use when the creative urge grabs them.
- Space. While children can draw anywhere, anytime, it helps to have a space/place in their daily environment where they can retreat to whenever they want to be creative ... and to come back to again later.
This was part of an extension activity based on "It's A Bad Day To Be A Fly!" , just in case you're wondering why on earth we would want to draw flies in the first place. After all, they're not exactly the most endearing creatures in the world! :o
Do you have any tips you'd like to share in regards to encouraging children to draw? We'd love to hear. Please feel free to leave a comment on this post or on our facebook page.
You may also like these activities:
Return to the Articles List for other children's learning activities or children's book reviews.