By Michela Tindera
August 19, 2014

If you've ever walked into a room in your home only to discover a crayon-created "masterpiece" on the wall, perhaps that portrait your preschooler left behind is really a blessing in disguise.

The way 4-year-olds draw pictures can be an indicator of their intelligence at 14, according to a recent study out of the Institute of Psychiatry at King's College London. Researchers have found moderate associations linking the amount of detail 4-year-olds included in pictures they were asked to draw of another child to higher scores on verbal intelligence tests at age 14.

They determined this by accounting for the amount of detail that was included in the figure—the more comprehensive their picture (including facial features, hair, two legs, two arms etc.), the higher their intelligence score was later in life. The study is based off of an assessment developed in the 1920s called the "Draw-a-Child" test that was used to examine a child's intelligence level at his current age.

But if your little one isn't a budding Matisse, there's no reason to panic. "The correlation is moderate, so our findings are interesting, but it does not mean that parents should worry if their child draws badly," said Dr. Rosalind Arden, the study's lead author. "Drawing ability does not determine intelligence, there are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence in later life."

You can learn how to decode your child's drawings, or try out some other simple crafts with your kids. And if you really can't keep them (and their art supplies) off your walls, consider this cool wallpaper that's actually meant to be colored on!

Photo of boy coloring courtesy of Shutterstock.


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