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How to Teach Kids to Draw: 8 Effective Ways to Build Their Artistic Skills

Updated: May 6, 2019


The arts are extremely beneficial to children. But how do they learn? If you want to know how to teach kids to draw, here are 8 ways to bring out their skills.

When times are tough, school art and music programs are the first victims of budget cuts. That's a shame because art education is vitally important for a child's development.

In fact, studies have shown direct links between art education and improved academic performance. Fortunately, it's easy (and fun!) to make the arts part of your everyday home life.


Encouraging your children to draw is one way to foster an appreciation for the arts. Most young children are receptive to the arts and love to draw. As a parent, you can foster a love of the arts through drawing.


Below, we'll show you how to teach kids to draw and you'll learn 8 ways to bring out their skills. Read on for more information!


Be Mindful of Your Kids' Developmental Stages


Children progress through developmental stages when learning to crawl, walk, and talk. Drawing isn't any different. For example, asking a three-year-old to draw an accurate still life of fruit on your table is like asking a six-month-old child to take a jog with you.


In the following sections on teaching kids to draw, we'll be sure to note the age and developmental stage for each piece of advice. Let's go!


1. With Very Young Children, Make Art a Part of Your Daily Routine


For very young children, exposure to process-oriented art is key. If you have the room, make a special art table with paper taped down onto it. That way, the child can focus on drawing instead of holding the paper down.


You could also create an art caddy with crayons, markers, watercolor paints, and yes, even shaving cream. The caddy can move to the kitchen table or wherever you want kids to sit to quarantine the mess.


When your child begins scribbling, your job is to ask open-ended questions or make observations. Don't ask your child, "What is it?"


Instead, observe what they're doing. For example, you could say, "I love the bright yellow color you chose for that line there. It makes me happy."


Or ask open-ended questions, such as, "Tell me about the circles you're drawing. I see so many of them." If you're at a total loss, you can always say, "Tell me about your drawing." As a parent, your job is to encourage your child's love of art and boost their confidence.


2. Teaching Children To Draw When They Are Scribbling and Using Schema


Children as young as eighteen months old may start scribbling on paper. Eventually, they will progress to shapes they label. For example, they might tell you the circle is a dog, and the long rectangle with two dots for eyes is Daddy.


Next, they develop a schema. These are symbols for objects the child uses over and over again.


Again, this is normal. Your job as a parent is to encourage your child's creativity and confidence.


On that note, make sure you don't say negative things about yourself, like, "Oh, I can't draw." Your child will pick up on your own lack of confidence.


Of course, teaching your kids how to draw might be the ideal time to improve your own drawing technique. After all, art isn't just for kids, is it?


3. Your Child Wants to Draw Things Realistically


You've spent your child's early years making art an everyday part of their life, and now they want to draw things realistically.


This desire could occur as early as five years old or as late as nine. The child needs the fine motor skills to manipulate a drawing instrument.


They must also have a desire to improve their skills. If so, they are ready for a more realistic drawing style.


At this point, you can introduce online drawing tutorials or drawing books with practical drawing exercises. Remember, though, to keep it fun!


4. Teach Your Child to Draw From Observation


If your child is ready, you can start asking them to draw things they see. This sounds obvious, but very young children draw what's in their imagination or what they know already.


Try having them draw something new without looking down at their paper. This helps them look with their eyes. Tell them to focus on the lines of the object first. Then they can look down and fill in the details.


Again, your job isn't to criticize but merely to observe and ask open-ended questions. These could include things like, "What part of the object is darker? Lighter?"


5. Teach a Kid to Draw and Tell a Story


Children from the ages of about five through eight may enjoy telling stories with their drawings. Encourage them, then, to assemble their drawings into a book.


It's easy to assemble a book of their drawings by stapling or tying the pages together. Then, put your child's book on the bookshelf with the other real books.


6. Confidence Crisis


Around the ages of nine through eleven, many children become discouraged by their artwork. It doesn't look the way they want it to look, because it doesn't look real. This realization can be disheartening.


But, any skill, whether it's drawing or riding a bike, takes practice. Make sure your child understands that learning a new skill like drawing takes hard work.


You can also reassure them their frustration is a good thing. It means they're progressing to the next artistic level. They need to keep working on their art, that's all.


7. Now Is The Time To Introduce Spatial Issues


One way to vastly improve your older child's drawing skills is to introduce spatial issues, such as how to depict:

  • perspective

  • foreshortening

These ideas can be tricky to learn, but, luckily, there are lots of online tutorials teaching them. A quick "Google" search will pull up more results than you'll ever need.


Again, be mindful of what you say to your child at this stage. Open-ended questions and observations are still more helpful than criticism.


8. Teaching Drawing With Observational Challenges


If your child has been practicing realistic drawing for a while, it might be fun to take part in some observational challenges. They can also help your child unlearn some schema if they're still using them.


They can use anything for observation. A tree outside, a block, or a bowl of fruit.

You can ask your child to draw all the colors they see. You can also take certain colors away so your child has to blend colors together to get the shade they're after.


Shaming or criticizing the child during the observation defeats the entire purpose of the exercise. You want your child to stay interested and motivated in improving their drawing skills.


Wrapping Up How To Teach Kids to Draw


We hope these tips on how to teach kids to draw has been helpful to you! Artistic expression is an important part of the human condition, and it shouldn't be neglected.


If you enjoyed this article, why not check out more articles on our blog? We have information on everything from kid entrepreneurs to corporate social responsibility.


Or, maybe you know a talented young artist who'd be a great fit for our team. If so, you can recommend them here.

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