Is My Preschooler Developing the Way He/She Should?

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I get emails from friends every now and then asking me what they should do with their preschoolers.

“What curriculum should I use?”
“How do you teach math?”
“Which reading program works?”

preschooler developingThese are good questions, but I think the main question every parent wants to know the answer to is this: Is my preschooler developing normally?

There are all kinds of assessments parents can use to find out if their kids are on target, whether it be milestones of infancy or gross motor skills of a 5 year old. And I encourage the use of these types of measurements, but I think the way to tell forward development is quite easy.

Look at your child’s art.

You can find out all kinds of things by watching what your children draw and create. What person is going to spend time doing something they don’t care about? If your child drew something, then it’s worth taking a look at.

Child physiologists and Early Childhood experts, such as Charles Wolfgang, describe the different stages of preschool art. (Click HERE for a great document on the stages of children’s art.) You can research, but you don’t need to know what “lingo” to use to notice if your child is developing normally. All you need to do is look for a progression. Look at the pictures from RB below. These are in chronological order over 9 months.

Art as preschool assessment

August 2011 – For quite a while I only got pictures of storms (notice the lightening) and rain. This example has all of the pictures RB was drawing.

September 2011 – Beginning to draw people (or in this case a monster). Notice he only drew the face and legs.

January 2012 – This picture blew me away! RB actually told me the story of this picture. It’s RB and his daddy playing catch. I was amazed at the detail and time he took to draw this. Notice the floating house in the background.

February 2012 – Still a floating house. No grass.

March 2012 – Floating people, very little grass in his pictures. He’s added faces and hair that resembles the person. (My hair is supposedly pulled back. LOL!)

April 2012 – Look at these body segments! And all of the words that RB is beginning to write! And the heart was an added surprise.

May 2012 – This may look more primitive, but notice the faces. They are different colors. RB is beginning to notice that people’s skin can be different shades. Pretty neat! (And my hair looks a little bit longer here…) Plus notice the people are standing on the ground.

In my opinion, as long as I am seeing progression in my kids, that equals success; and I use this to measure all subjects in our homeschool curriculum. If RB is doing well in a subject and is liking it, then I push him on to the next lesson. If he is struggling and saying he doesn’t like something, then I back off and put the book away for a week or two. I’ve done this with Sweet Cheeks as well. It causes much less stress during our school time. Stopping for a little bit does not equal taking steps backward.

But I keep watching their pictures. Because as they learn, it shows up in what they draw. Whether it be writing as RB writes about his picture or who the picture belongs to, or Sweet Cheeks drawing a rainbow and discussing the shapes she is drawing.

Parents, don’t stress. Unless there is something majorly developmentally wrong with your child, which would have reared its head in other ways, then your child is fine and will be right on target. Children develop at different rates and in different capacities. Try not to compare your child to other children his age. Compare him to himself. And if you are concerned, there are simple actions you can take:

Sit down and color with your kids.
Model to them how to stay in the lines.
Discuss with them why you are choosing the colors you are using.
Say to them, “Tell me about your picture.”
Explain to them what you are drawing.
Show them how to add details to their work.

Not only are you teaching them thinking skills and creativity, but you are getting good quality time with the little people you love.

What are your thoughts on preschool development?


Is My Preschooler Developing the Way He/She Should? — 3 Comments

  1. right on! I LOVE the progression of pictures. Just what we learned in class. Would you mind if I passed your blog along to my instructor? She may enjoy using them in her power points for class. 🙂

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