Each of these stages refers
to a combination of visual characteristics found in the art work of children.
Developmental-Stage theory assumes that the stages occur in
a sequential order. Little attempt has been made to relate these stages
of growth in art directly to chronological age because so many factors
contribute to the childs development in art. Many individuals never
continue beyond the schematic or transitional mode of representation in
the graphic arts. Just as children dont grow physically and at the
same time as their peers, the same can be said for their creative and
mental growth. It happens at different rates, which is normal.
1. The Scribble Stage
The first stage occurs when the child manipulates a drawing tool and makes
random marks, dots, and lines on the drawing surface. He will scribble
and manipulate the drawing tool with little or no concern for the appearance
of the marks he makes. There are three discernible stages during this
- random scribbling
- controlled scribbling
- naming of scribbling
By definition, a child in the
scribbling stage, usually 2 - 4 years of age, is not drawing symbols
for objects. Children like to scribble because it gives them a chance
to move their arms around freely. The act of scribbling is purely kinesthetic
and imaginative. Dont waste money on coloring books, they can actually
inhibit childrens creativity. They are much better off with a large
sheet of paper and a fat, dark crayon.
2. The Pre-Schematic
The second, or pre-schematic stage, is entered when the child produces
his first representative symbols for objects in his environment. These
symbols are formed with circles, squares, and lines. The symbols change
frequently. The pictures have a floating organization and the paper
may be turned many times while drawing. Later, the symbols may be organized
horizontally. The pre-schematic stage refers to that stage when the child
is drawing his first symbols, but has not yet developed schema.
Generally from 3 to 7 years of age.
3. The Schematic Stage
The main characteristics of this stage are the repetition of symbols for
familiar objects, and the use of the base-line. The term schema
refers to the habitually repeated symbol for an object. Examples of such
schema are the lollipop tree, the stiff scarecrow-type drawings of people,
or a series of houses which are all drawn the same. The figures appear
flat and stiff, and are changed only when there is strong motivation to
do so. Later, multiple base-lines are the major organizational devices
used by the child in this stage. X-ray or transparent views, top views,
side views, or raised base-lines are used in increasing frequency as the
subject depicted demands variation from the single base-line. The pictures
become more complex; yet they still use schema. Single base-lines, multiple
base-lines, and fold-up views are used. The fused or continuous contour
line is also used to further define figures. In general, children reach
this stage between 6 and 11 years of age. Without further instruction
and practice a few children will reach a plateau during the latter part
of this stage.
3. The Transitional Stage
This is the stage in which the maturing child, usually 9 years
or older, attempts to produce art work that meets adult standards; yet
he still produces works which unintentionally contain many characteristics
of the schematic stage. For instance, a picture may include a natural
looking ground plane with trees of diminishing size going off into the
distance. However, the child may include the top view of a swimming pool
and place several stiff figures on the edge of the paper. The art work
has visual contradictions. The base-line is replaced by a receding ground
plane, and there is frequent use of intentional overlapping. Much attention
is given to details, sex roles, and clothing differences. Some linear
perspective may be used during this stage. A few children who enter this
stage will reach a plateau and not enter the stage of realism.
5. The Realism Stage
The stage of realism is entered when the child is producing art work in
the manner of adult artists. In general, the child is 12 or older.
Considerable control over the medium, content, and organization is evident.
The figures become natural in appearance, or are intentionally stylized.
The consistent use of many organizational devices is also quite evident
in the art work produced during this stage, such as overlapping, diminishing
size, placement on the picture plane, and linear and aerial perspective.
It is at this stage that the child becomes most critical and self conscious
about their ability to produce realistic artwork.