According to Viktor Lowenfeld, one of the most prominent art education professors in history, kids go through six stages before they’re artistically developed. They’re called the scribble stage, the preschematic stage, the schematic stage, the dawning realism stage, the pseudo-naturalistic stage, and the decision stage.
In this article, I’ll delve into the schematic stage in detail, so follow along if you want to know where your little one stands in terms of art development. If you want to learn more about the developmental stages of drawing click here or the developmental stages of drawing a person click here.
What Is the Schematic Stage?
The schematic stage usually starts at 7 years, but it can happen as early as 5 years in some kids. It’s different from the rest of the stages because it’s the start of logical drawings that focus on a baseline.
The first two stages of art development, scribbling and preschematic, consist mainly of scribbles and drawings that lack logic. Kids focus more on their hands’ movements rather than the end product of their drawing, which breeds repetitive patterns.
The schematic stage is different because kids have more developed hand-eye coordination and motor skills, which leads to more realistic drawings. Also, they start grasping the idea of space and no longer draw creatures with tiny heads and large bodies or vice versa.
On top of that, they learn that when drawing landscapes, the sky goes up, and the ground goes down.
Overall, they draw more understandable drawings that include logical spatial distribution of objects, definable shapes, and relatable colors.
That’s not to say that kids in this stage pay attention to the result of their drawing. On the contrary, they’re as uninterested in it as the first two stages, and they care about the process of drawing more. However, they gain depth in implementing what’s on their mind and know where the start point and end point of their drawing are.
How Kids Use Schematic Drawings to Communicate Their Feelings
During the schematic stage, your kid might try to communicate their feelings through drawing. This is clearly observed when kids draw objects without spatial sense, although they’re well aware of space concepts.
For instance, they might draw a small house next to giant humans. This might mean that they perceive your family members as more important than the house itself.
Kids also use their drawings to express negative emotions, which was found to have a significant effect on regulating their emotions. Studies show that after drawing, kids have better moods than before. Whether that’s because of the distraction drawing provides or because of their venting through their hand movements, the effect is well-proven.
Is It Wrong for Kids to Use Coloring Books During the Schematic Stage?
According to Viktor Lowenfeld in his book, Creative and Mental Growth, coloring books can negatively affect a child’s creativity.
He argues that kids shouldn’t color within ready-made lines when they can draw themselves. Upon seeing stereotypical drawings in a coloring book, kids cement them in their heads and make no effort to get creative and create a drawing that breaks the stereotype.
The example that Lowenfeld used in his book is the drawing of a bird. Many coloring books draw birds in a V shape that has no features. Just two large lines to resemble the wings. When kids were asked to draw birds before and after using coloring books, they demonstrated much less creativity afterward.
Instead of relying on their creativity to come up with a normally shaped bird, they drew the V shape.
Another point where using coloring books proves nonideal is its effect on kids’ confidence. When the little ones see professional drawings in a book, they feel they’ll never be able to draw an object as perfectly as the one in front of them. Over time, this leads to a lack of confidence in their drawing skills.
To answer your question, coloring books can suppress a kid’s creative expression, especially when used during developmental stages. However, I know how hard it is to provide a more enjoyable distraction for your little ones while managing to stay sane. Also, coloring pages can be a reliable tool in teaching your kids about emotional expression.
So as a piece of advice, if you are wanting to help increase their creative expression, then maybe not offer coloring books as often. But using them every once in a while won’t do much harm.
When Should the Schematic Stage End?
The schematic stage commonly ends once kids reach 9 years, but bear in mind that it differs from one kid to another. Some children develop slower than others, which doesn’t mean they’re any less creative.
After 9 years of age, kids get better at observing the world around them, and their creative expression skills take a leap. This results in realistic drawings in what is known as the dawning realism stage.
To Wrap Up
The schematic stage is the third stage of art development in kids, as per Viktor Lowenfeld. It’s characterized by the presence of baselines in children’s drawings and an improved understanding of space, colors, and shapes. It usually takes place from 7-9 years, but some kids start showing logic in their drawings as early as 5 years.