Drawings a goldmine of information about a child

Children's drawings are more than just windows into a child's emotional struggles (Find out more about your child through his drawing; and Colour a kid's world - and help him heal through art; both published on April 10).

Parents need to value drawing as an activity that leads to learning in reading, maths and writing.

Drawing is early literacy. A child learns to read and create symbols that have referential and representational function.

Given the right support, drawing develops a child's confidence and love for reading and writing.

In my 15 years of research and observing children engaged in drawing, I found that most pre-schoolers take drawing very seriously and thoughtfully.

I concluded that children draw to think and think to draw.

Drawing, as an activity, is a good mental workout for children. It triggers analytical thought processes in them.

Children solve problems such as to how best to differentiate men from women by adding subtle distinguishing markings.

They analyse by organising the individual elements that constitute a thematic drawing, for example, including trees, insects and the sun in a garden scene.

They also attribute viewpoints, feelings and perspectives about the things they represent - the spider is sad, so he stops spinning a web.

Why do children draw? They draw to process information, record experiences and seek an understanding of their immediate environment.

Children draw to test "what-if" scenarios that they find difficulty in expressing or do not have the liberty to test out in real life, for example, intentionally colouring an apple purple.

Parents and teachers need to take children's drawings seriously and go beyond the therapeutic effect.

Children's drawings are a source of information into a child's thinking, interests, know-how, conceptions and misconceptions, which are helpful in developing a deep relationship with the child.

Children's drawings are more than just artworks to be displayed; they are also letters of wonderment and intent.

Rebecca Chan (Dr)

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 14, 2018, with the headline 'Drawings a goldmine of information about a child'. Print Edition | Subscribe