Should I draw for my child? – Kolbe

This can quickly become a point of dissent in early childhood education from what I’ve seen, but I like the approach Ursula Kolbe takes…. She writes:

“While I love drawing – and many children know that I do – I don’t draw for them. When children ask you to draw a particular object, it’s usually because they lack confidence in their own ability to draw it. Although it’s tempting to draw on request, I caution against it. Why?
Young children don’t approach drawing the way adults do. They use a different ‘system’. When children ask me to draw a dog, say, I have no idea what sort of image they want. If I draw a dog in adult fashion, they can’t use this information to make their own drawings (although they may find watching me entertaining). If I draw in a simple cartoon-like manner, I’d be giving them a formula. This is likely to set them up for failure because it’s difficult to remember a formula invented by another. And a formula does not help children teach themselves to draw.
As already mentioned, ‘I don’t know how to draw it’ often means ‘I don’t know how to start’. Talking things through with children can be a great help …. Older children benefit from opportunities to draw objects in front of them. For instance, when Jake had difficulties drawing a bicycle from memory, we set up a bicycle in front of him….
While talking things though with children takes time, it is well worth it. Your reward? Seeing their immense pride and joy when they realise they have taught themselves another drawing strategy, mastered another step in exploring and representing their world.” (p.117)

Colouring-in Books

On a similar note, Kolbe adds: “Colouring-in books: should we buy them? Here is my view.
Most colouring-in books are a bit like junk food – harmless in moderation but definitely not recommended for a regular diet. Why? Because they don’t assist children in ‘learning to see’ or draw. They may keep hands busy but they rarely provide food for the imagination.
That said, it’s true that many children like colouring-in books, and for short periods seem to find the task of colouring-in a calming experience. Particularly for a child sick in bed, the repetitive actions as well as the chance to handle bright colours may even be therapeutic.
It is sad, however, when programs provide children with pre-drawn colouring-in activities in the belief that these are ‘educational’. Some claim that learning to colour within outlines helps children develop find-muscle control, and so assists them in gaining ‘pre-writing’ skills. That may be so, but why give children pre-drawn outlines to fill in?
When children are pleased with their own drawings, they usually take great care in colouring them. Pride in their drawings comes from the confidence of knowing that they can draw. And confidence comes from having had many opportunities to draw. If colouring-in activities are offered too frequently, children miss opportunities to learn to draw. Less confident children may even lose faith in their drawing abilities.” (p.118)

Ref: (italics in original, bold blue emphases mine) Ursula Kolbe (2007) Rapunzel’s Supermarket: All about young children and their art. Second Edn. Pippinot Press: Byron Bay, NSW.

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About backyardbooks

This blog is a kind of electronic storage locker for ideas and quotes that inform my research... literary research into fiction for young adults (with a special focus on New Zealand fiction). Kiwis are producing amazing literature for younger readers, but it isn't getting the academic appreciation it deserves. I hope readers of this blog can make use of the material I gather and share by way of promoting our fiction. Cheers!
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