Stages from Babble to Scribble to Dabble

 Before children talk, they babble, before they can walk, children crawl and before they speak, they learn to draw. When our babies are born, they do not directly start jumping and running and monkeying around. They first start by dragging their body with their tiny stomachs. Then comes the crawling stage, after which they learn to stand and grab all things near them which help them walk ahead.

Later, they learn to walk without any support and that’s when comes their running and jumping into the picture. We feel so content looking at them standing at their own two feet, realizing they’ve learnt it on their own. We’ve never forced them to start doing things by comparing them to the other children.

That is also how art grows in a child. There are stages to every age and as and when they start growing older, their art reflects it. Their thoughts, imaginations, emotions, creativity, curiosity are all drawn on paper using different colours, textures, lines, shapes and objects. Everything that they draw, they scribble or even colour has a deeper meaning to it.

Art plays a wider role in a child’s growth and development than we can think of it.

I remember, when I was a child, my parents didn’t have a clue about these stages and what art development meant for a child. It was all together, the colouring and drawing and painting to a certain age and then all gone away like dust. But now when we are parents, we want to do everything when it comes to our children. We want to savour every moment of theirs, live with them in their happiness and understand their tiniest needs and wants.

How a child grows up to be lies on what foundation was laid out for him, and a major part that connects a child to nature, to colours, to new possibilities and to us as parents is ART. It creates an unspoken bond with all the things around. Thus, let us comprehend how art develops in a child and why is it so important.


Art, in children is a developing and ongoing process. Every age they pass through has something important to teach them. It feeds their curiosity and moulds their creativity for wider exploration. Art in kids begins as young as when the child is a few months old.

The noises they make, the movements they do, their actions, the use of different things around them and the body language they use to communicate their needs and wants is all a kind of expression. Scientifically, as they grow older there are stages for each age group, their artistic expressions and how art impacts it.



The first and the earliest form of art a child exhibits by drawing random lines, dots, curves and circles.

  • The scribbling stage in children usually starts at the age of two and extends up to four years. It mainly consists of random dots, lines, uneven patterns,  continuous circular curves and so on. These are disordered and disarray. This stage is usually to demonstrate a child’s enjoyment and awareness of the kinaesthetic movements.
  • The holding of the crayon, or colour pencil and learning to take a grip of it for making those constant repeated motions enhances their motor skills. Scribbles can be disordered, longitudinal, circular or named.
  •  The kind of scribble a child draws out reflects it’s personality, emotions and his knowledge about the surroundings.  For example, a child might draw a few lines and scribble on it continuously and then draw slant lines and then connect it with circular patterns in the end. The child might want to show or communicate his surroundings and what all it observed around it but obviously, the drawing doesn’t make sense.
  • Hence, the whole point of scribbling. It is not aimed to be realistic. It is just for the child to have fun and draw out whatever he/she thinks about the environment .
  • Thus, instead of focussing on the drawing, it is more important to listen to them when they scribble. What story they say and noises they make. That will give you a better understanding about their thought process. As the child grows older, his scribbles become more defined as his power to visualize and imagine pictures, increases and so does the art.



This child grows to a stage where she is able to create and perceive an image in her head visually.

  • The second stages in the art process is called as the preschematic age and children from the age of four years to six years go through this stage. In this stage, children are able to perceive a schema i.e.., a visual image in their heads. They produce their first symbols as representatives of objects they see around them. They start using different geometrical shapes like circle, squares and lines to draw their diagrams. They use more enclosed figures for their drawings.
  •  In this stage, the stick figures of humans, animals, trees, nature  are highly prominent. The stick figures of humans with circular or oval heads, hands like sticks coming out the head or behind, bodies without necks and use of other shapes like triangles for the dress and rectangles for pants are common in this age. The entire page is covered without leaving much space.  It is called pre-schematic because even if the child can visualise it, he/she cannot draw  it’s figures like the actual one.
  • This is one of the important steps in development as the child learns to draw, rather than scribble. It actually helps the child to see the image, interpret it , assign each symbol to a part of the drawing and then put it down on paper.
  • The more the child grows, the better he/she understands and thus it keeps adding or joining more symbols and structures to the original one. It highlights the transition in the complexity level of their thoughts and sentiments between scribbling and pre-schematic drawing.



In this stage the child starts to understand the complexity of an image. She is able to clearly distinguish between base lines and skylines and use more symbols and signs to meet the complexity of the visual image.

  • The schematic age of art development takes place in kids from seven to nine years old. In this stage the ‘schema’ becomes much more clearer and simplified in the minds of the children.
  • There is a repetition in the use of symbols and shapes to make the drawing as precise as their visual idea. There is a more organised and detailed use of space in the diagram. The objects and symbols used in the drawing seem to have a connection to each other like a story.
  • The most significant learning of this stage is that children learn about different lines and demarcations and are able to differentiate between them. There is a prominent distinction between the base line and the skyline. Their use of colours is more realistic than imaginary. Like the base is coloured green or brown, the skyline is blue, the trees are green and so forth. The type of colours they choose are inspired by nature.
  • What they see around them, is what they try drawing. An exaggeration is often seen in these drawings(like humans taller than trees, them touching the sun, smaller houses). This stage is like a combination, where kids start to develop a thought process like adults like but are not able to think abstractly. It is a stage where the children start to add a pop of realism in their drawings or paintings.
  • The schema drawing of a child has many variations to it. Kids might use techniques like fold over in which the fold the paper and then draw on each side, so that when they open the paper, there is a link or story to it. The other technique is the x-ray diagrams, where the child draws the inside and outside of an object. Birds eye view is a technique where the objects in the diagram are elevated and small as it might appear to a bird.
  • The schema drawings are based more on the narrative of the child . That is why if you ask children to draw a scenery almost all of them will be similar with a well defined base line, the sky, green trees, a round sun and a few birds. Realistic approach becomes their narrative.



This is the stage where the child becomes self critical. She becomes more conscious about her drawing and starts to understand where and how she is lacking in her abilities to replicate a diagram.

  • This stage of development occurs in children when they are nine to eleven years old. As the name suggests, this stage marks the peak of realism in their drawings. It is a transitional stage for a child from being self-aware to self-critical. In this stage, children try to depict their drawing as real as the object appears.
  • There is an attention to detail rather than occupying the whole space. A clear distinction between objects is seen. For example, if a child draws human there is a clear-cut difference between a man, boy, girl and woman. The way the kid draws out their hair, the type of clothes, facial features and all such things make the drawing more penetrable.
  • There is enough space between baselines and skylines. Children use different techniques to show different things. The sizes of the objects are made big or small according to the type of image they want to represent. The subtle use of colours, shading and contouring are all used to make the picture more pragmatic.
  • There is no need for an explanation from children about their artwork. Their perspective comes to play. But, in this stage children become self critical.
  • It is an ongoing process, where the child realises the kind of abilities it has and what he/she lacks. It is a little difficult phase as the child gets frustrated and angsty when his/her attempts fail to match the sincerity of the object.
  • This stages marks the dawn of art being a creative outlet for children, way more than fun and enjoyment. Children start to see art as a medium to express and communicate.



This is the final stage in the process before a child steps into acquiring different techniques of art. Her art becomes more important to her as well as what perspective others might have when they look at it.

  • This marks the last stage of art development in children which ranges from eleven to thirteen years old. This stage sees a transformation between the first four stages to the last stage. In the first four stages children were much involved in the process of the art rather than the final product. But, in this last stage , kids emphasize on their masterpiece more. They want their end product to meet their own standards and also be visually appealing to the outsiders.
  • There are two main perspectives involved in this stage. The visual and the non-visual. The visual types have an outdoor perspective. The non-visual types represent their art in a personal way. Their relationships with the outside world are reflected in the drawing. The visuals look at their art in the form of a staged presentation.
  • This is the last stage for a child before he turns into an adult. This stage defines the path of art in a child’s life as he moves ahead.


As described above, art is an ongoing process and plays a vital role at each age for a child. There are various steps involved in the development of a child. Like any other process, art also takes it’s time to work it’s magic. These five steps help the child grow in various measures. It teaches kids to express and communicate where words cannot. It brings to life their emotions, thoughts, sentiments, ideas and opinions.

The kind of art a child wants to learn, his/her interest in it is all based on these development stages. After the child becomes a teenager, the kind of art he/she wants to pursue becomes more of a technique than a source of self awareness. There is a wide stream to choose from and hence excel in it. Art does wonders in kids. It is their first source of exploration into this bright, beautiful world.