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documentation written by our educators

Drawing, painting and mark making

Drawing, painting and mark making are highly valued, encouraged, facilitated and understood at Como Children.
When a child draws he/she is telling us the story of his developmental life. In these early days of his continuum a lot is at stake. The value of his capacities will either be supported or impeded by: the number of opportunities he has to make marks, the relevance of the tools and materials that are introduced to him and the level of understanding and therefore responses from the adults around him. Each child instinctively knows what to do with a pencil just as he did with a stick when no pens, pencils, textas etc were available. He also quickly understands that there are places to draw and places to leave unmarked. Some might challenge the conventions and make their marks on walls and the like, but fortunately most emerging mark makers are content to try out all those lines that eventually will lead to the creating of form, representations of the world, and then refined into letters and numbers on a piece of paper or fabric. So many potential formations appear from the child’s mark making.

At first it is lines, straight and curved that appear out of the morass of circling and pendulum strokes.  Later we see the child sectioning the paper into horizontal stripes, vertical stripes and then a combination that creates a pattern of little squares remarkably uniform for something drawn without a ruler and done by the child simply because he is moved to. Another universal formation is the creation of sections by intersecting  4 lines that cross from one corner to another, meeting almost dead centre. There is no self-consciousness in these acts so the child is not measuring the outcome. The intrinsic motivation is to explore the space, gain command over fine motor skills and develop core mathematical and literacy intelligence, which is fundamental to understanding the universe and participating in society.  In time the child makes the connections, if I put this with that and then add a bit of that I have ….The mind begins to tumble into the ideas that can be expressed. Ultimately all this mark making becomes something the child can intentionally manipulate and use on demand or command.

Each morning water colours and paper are offered in the studio. Some days drawing tools are also offered. The children are then free to draw and brush mark in whatever way they are intrinsically motivated. We will see each child work according to age, developmental stage and interest. Making a single swirl of colour is as valid as a full illustration because the opportunity to do the former and the acknowledgement from the educator develops the confidence in the child to do more when the time is right. This is a natural process and it is important that a child is not pushed to produce something that is the adult’s idea of what is appropriate. The inner process of a child is a miracle and it can never be fully explained. An example of this wonderful mystery might be when a child is moved to paint the entire paper in just one colour. Why that colour when there are several  others? Again it is vital not to coerce the child into giving an explanation as rationalising can be narrowing.

Each child at Como is immersed in his own development. His or her drawings, paintings and mark making communicate where he or she is in the unfolding of capacities. We look at these as part of the child’s self-portrait. We also know that to be able to make a mark is an early literacy skill,a precursor to drawing, writing, story telling, reading, communicating ideas etc in the same way that crawling is a precursor to walking.