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A parent's guide to drawing and painting


A parent's guide to drawing and painting

Between the ages of two and five years old, children love to make marks and draw pictures for their family. I’m sure many of you have a large collection of artwork on your fridge.

This stage is a wonderful time for children to explore their creativity and for parents to join in and enjoy some activities together.

Four things to know about drawing and painting

  1. Supports emotional development.  It allows children to process ideas and express feelings. It is also a great way to help them feel empowered. 
  2. Feel positive about early writing. Children who enjoy mark making develop an understanding that marks can be used as symbols to represent ideas.
  3. Reflects interest and knowledge. What children choose to draw and paint often shows what is important to them. This is why they paint family members.
  4. Builds and maintains confidence. The focus for adults in children’s earliest years should be to build confidence and enjoyment, so when they become self-critical they don’t give up.


How to enjoy and encourage drawing with your child

Joining in and sitting with your child can boost a child’s interest. They will often copy what you do and how you use the materials.

Try not to ask too many questions. Sometimes they don’t know what they are drawing, ask them if they like painting and see if they make any other comments.

Create a relaxed environment.  Children make more progress if they are not under pressure. It’s fine if they lose interest halfway through. 

Early drawing is about exploration. It is normal for a child not to draw eyes or mouths on people. Also to give mummy green hair instead of brown. At this stage it is just important that they explore colours and textures.

Have plenty of blank paper. Encourage your little one to create their own drawings. Lots of colouring in can reduce their confidence in producing their own artwork.


Ideas for you to do together

Take a pen for a walk – pick out lots of different pens and crayons. Sit together and tell them you are taking a pen for a walk. Start drawing a wiggly line and see if your child wants to join in.

Paint with rags, sponges and brushes – Put out a large sheet of paper. Pour large splodges of paint on to a tray and put out various painting materials and see what marks you can make together. A painting apron will definitely be needed for this one!

Mess-free painting – If you don’t fancy the mess, try some bath time painting. Put water in a plastic bowl and add a few drops of food colouring. Your child can make marks on the side of the bath with brushes. It can then be easily washed away with detergent.

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