The Journey from Scribbles to the Written Word

Education and Expression

As you may have guessed, scribbling and drawing provide far more than a quiet pastime on a rainy day. It helps children develop an understanding of how to communicate and express themselves, says Kathy Barclay, a professor of reading and early childhood development at Western Illinois State University in Macomb. Scribbling relates to writing the exact same way that crawling relates to walking.

There's proof that scribbling helps children learn to read as well. One of the most powerful vehicles that can help a 4- or 5-year-old become literate is early writing experience. Drawing, on the other hand, helps children express themselves emotionally and creatively, expressing their feelings and fears.

Since scribbling and drawing have so many benefits, experts advise doing everything you can do to encourage future Hemingways and Michelangelos to practice their craft. Here's how:

  • Create scribbling stations. Keep markers, crayons, pencils, and paper in places around your home that offer lots of light and flat surfaces to work on.
  • Offer a choice of materials. Some children prefer bright marker strokes to the subtle shading of crayons, and some find "chubby" crayons or pencils easier to manage. Be sure that all of the materials are safe for young children -- they're not averse to scribbling all over themselves or putting crayons and markers in their mouth.
  • Don't curb your enthusiasm. A great way to keep your child writing and drawing is to show how much you like her work. Praise her efforts frequently, and show her you care by hanging her creations on your fridge or in her room. You can also ask her to "read" you what she's written, or write a story together.
  • Make sure your child sees you writing. Let your child watch you write notes, make out checks, create shopping lists, and doodle. He'll be more likely to write if he knows that you think it's important.

But chances are you won't have to do much to get your child on the path to writing and drawing. The magical colors of the Crayola box are a temptation few kids can resist.

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