Picture this: What do children's drawings tell us about their intelligence? (2023)

Children’s drawings have captivated the interest of psychologists for over a century and many have argued that these early depictions can tell us something about their intelligence or emotional wellbeing.

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For example, children’s drawings of human figures undergo a highly predictable pattern of development, yet the speed with which children progress through these stages varies considerably from child to child. Given these large individual differences, some psychologists have suggested that children’s ability to draw human figures may be a reflection of their intelligence and many clinicians and educators have used children’s human figure drawings to estimate IQ. While this method of assessment ranks among the top 10 instruments used by professional who work with children, there is little scientific evidence that children’s drawings do, in fact, measure intelligence.

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In our study, we compared children’s scores on a standard drawing test with their scores on a well validated IQ test. We found that drawing was not a good predictor of IQ. Therefore, although children’s drawings are inherently fascinating, they should not be used to draw conclusions about their intellectual abilities.

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What kids drawings say about their intelligence? ›

The researchers found that higher scores on the Draw-a-Child test were moderately associated with higher scores of intelligence at ages 4 and 14. The correlation between drawing and intelligence was moderate at ages 4 (0.33) and 14 (0.20).

What can we learn from children's drawings? ›

Children's drawings can tell you so much about their fears, joys, dreams, hopes and nightmares, but they also give you a precious view of their personalities. Children begin their drawing process from the moment they are big enough to hold a crayon or pencil and put it to paper.

How do you know if your child is gifted in drawing? ›

The best way to find out is to compare your child's drawings to those of other children of the same age. If your child's drawings are far more realistic than those of his/her peers, your child is gifted in drawing.

What do childrens family drawings mean? ›

The Most Telling Drawing Of All: The Family Portrait

When a child draws a picture of their family they include a lot of telling information, such as their relationship with their parents, how they feel at home, and more. The way a child interprets their family can be identified in the details of their drawing. Dr.

What can children's art tell us about their learning and thinking? ›

Art can help children learn and practice skills like patterning and cause and effect (i.e., “If I push very hard with a crayon the color is darker.”). They can also practice critical thinking skills by making a mental plan or picture of what they intend to create and following through on their plan. Math skills.

What can a child's drawing tell you about their cognitive development? ›

Drawings also tell us about cognitive development, such as whether children have gained an understanding of using symbols for people and objects that surround them. They can only draw things that they know or have experienced.

What is the importance of drawing in child development? ›

Why is drawing important for children's development? Children draw to express what they are feeling and thinking. Drawing is an especially important outlet for children who do not yet have the verbal skills to communicate their feelings.

What is the importance of drawing and painting in child development? ›

Drawing also acts as a powerful way for caregivers to understand how a child is feeling”, said Jola. Drawing also helps with children's development of fine motor skills as they learn to control their finger grip and movement to the ideas they are expressing.

Why does drawing help learning? ›

It's long been known that drawing something helps a person remember it. A new study shows that drawing is superior to activities such as reading or writing because it forces the person to process information in multiple ways: visually, kinesthetically, and semantically.

Are gifted children good at art? ›

In fact, there are key indicators of artistic giftedness that make a child a strong overall learner. Artistically gifted students typically exhibit a strong sense of creativity.

What are the characteristics of gifted children in art? ›

Artistically gifted students typically exhibit a strong sense of creativity. They are risk-takers who employ innovative methods, use interesting materials, and test artistic boundaries. For example, when the rest of the class is still drawing stick figures, they're experimenting with three-dimensional figures.

What should a 7 year old be able to draw? ›

By 6 or 7 years, children have their own style of drawing, which can usually be recognized by adults. By the time they are 7, they will be able to form good circles, squares, rectangles, triangles and diamonds in their drawings.

How children's drawing skills develop over time? ›

As children develop better control over the muscles in their hands and fingers, their scribbles begin to change and become more controlled. Toddlers may make repeated marks on the page—open circles, diagonal, curved, horizontal, or vertical lines.

What do children symbolize in art? ›

There was also a tendency to represent children as innocent, angelic, appealing, attractive, obedient and gentle beings, whereas by nature they are, for at least some of the time, mischievous, naughty, unappealing, unattractive, wayward and wild.

What does drawing self portraits teach children? ›

Self portraits are a great way to support children's self-concept and identity, as well as creativity and fine motor skills. In this learning activity, children will be encouraged to identify their own facial features in their reflection, intrepret their positioning and replicate on paper.

How does an art influence the child's intellectual development? ›

Art activities give children a much-needed chance to express their ideas, build on their observational skills, gain confidence, promote feelings of self-worth and develop their creativity and imagination, as well as offering them time to relax.

What does your child artwork reveal? ›

Children's art gives us insight into their development – the way they hold a marker, the amount of space they use on a page, the way lines and shapes are formed and repeated and what they say (or don't say!) about their drawings. All these tell us where they are with cognitive as well as physical development.

What are the benefits of children learning art? ›

How Arts and Crafts Help Children Learn
  • Improve fine motor skills. ...
  • Improve gross motor skills. ...
  • Improve hand-eye coordination. ...
  • Boost visual processing ability. ...
  • Improves focus. ...
  • Increases working memory. ...
  • Skyrockets self esteem. ...
  • Teaches them to express themselves.

How does drawing help intellectual development? ›

Drawing, like reading or writing, is a learned skill that can be taught and developed. The practice of drawing develops one's perceptual-cognitive skills, the ability to accurately perceive, process and utilize visual information, a skill that transfers into all disciplines of learning.

What factors play a role in children's development of drawing and creative skills? ›

They are; (1) the factors which are specific to child (species-specific readiness, maturation, age, intelligence, motivation, general state of arousal and anxiety, physiological state, prior experiences, individual differences, and child psychology) and (2) environmental factors (family, school, teacher, peer groups, ...

How does drawing help intellectually? ›

Drawing has a similar function through visual means. Although drawing is not commonly thought of as a manifestation of intelligence, it is in fact an intellectual exercise that allows an individual to use visualization as a way to understand and project concepts— apprehension.

What skills children learn from painting? ›

Painting is a way for children to do many important things: convey ideas, express emotion, use their senses, explore color, explore process and outcomes, and create aesthetically pleasing works and experiences.

What is the main importance of drawing? ›

Drawing plays a big role in our cognitive development. It can help us learn to write and think creatively, develop hand-eye co-ordination, hone analytic skills, and conceptualise ideas.

What are the 5 benefits of drawing? ›

7 Great Benefits of Painting & Drawing
  • Improve Communication Skills.
  • Enhance Creativity. ...
  • Increase Emotional Intelligence. ...
  • Improve memory.
  • Self-esteem Booster.
  • Reduces Stress.

Is drawing good for brain development? ›

Study Shows That Drawing Is Good for Your Brain

This cognitive research study concluded that “making art could delay or even negate age-related decline of certain brain functions.” For anyone interested in brain health, and in boosting their creativity, now you have an even better reason to draw.

What is the most important thing to learn in drawing? ›

The 5 basic skills of drawing are understanding edges, spaces, light and shadow, relationships, and, the whole, or gestalt. These 5 basic skills of drawing make up the components of a finished work of art when put together. These are the 5 basic drawing skills every artist needs to know.

Why does drawing improve creativity? ›

Drawing helps your brain to be more “in the moment.” Drawing and doodling can act as another form of mindfulness meditation, and helps make completing one task easier. It can also help to let your mind work through things subconsciously, so you can tackle bigger-picture creative problem solving.

Are gifted kids Rare? ›

While we like to think everyone is special, some people have extraordinary abilities — intellectual, artistic, social, or athletic. Many experts believe only 3 to 5 percent of the population is gifted, though some estimates reach 20 percent.

Are gifted children intelligent? ›

Profoundly gifted individuals score in the 99.9th percentile on IQ and achievement tests and have an exceptionally high level of intellectual prowess.

Are gifted kids smart? ›

Giftedness is often defined as an intellectual ability linked to an IQ score of 130 or more. However, not all gifted children excel in an academic area. Sometimes giftedness shows up as a high creative, artistic, musical and/or leadership ability relative to same-age peers.

Are gifted children more creative? ›

In reality, like all children, gifted kids have distinct individual aptitudes. This is especially apparent when it comes to creativity: Contrary to popular belief, not all intellectually gifted children are inherently creative, and not all creatively gifted kids are academically adept.

What makes a gifted kid gifted? ›

The National Association of Gifted Children (NAGC) defines giftedness as “Gifted individuals are those who demonstrate outstanding levels of aptitude (defined as an exceptional ability to reason and learn) or competence (documented performance or achievement in top 10% or rarer) in one or more domains.

What should a 9 year old be able to draw? ›

Easy things to draw for beginners include simple shapes like circles, squares, and triangles. You can also have them draw easy objects like a sun, a moon, a tree, or a house. For more easy drawing ideas, check out the article!

At what age do kids stop drawing? ›

“It usually begins some time during adolescence, but we see that the crisis is occurring in progressively younger children," says Professor Ingeborg Stana. "Some children stop drawing when they are around the age of nine or ten.”

What should a child be able to draw at 4? ›

Four years old is when they can start to really draw an accurate square. Now, at three and three and a half, they might imitate a square, but a lot of times, it will have curved corners and not distinct corners for a square. Oblique lines, or diagonal lines, come into play at about four and a half years old.

What are the 3 developmental levels in drawing? ›

The developmental stages of children's drawings in Understanding Children's Drawings by Cathy Malchiodi include: Scribbling (1.5 to 3+ years) Basic Forms (3+ to 4+ years) Human Forms and Beginning Schemata (4-6 years)

What developmental stage is drawing people? ›

By 2½ years, your child will start to draw people that resemble a tadpole/amoeba - with arms and/or legs attached directly to the face. The face may not have any features. By 3 years, your child will add features e.g. eyes and mouth. It is not until after the age of 4 that your child may start to draw a separate body.

What does it mean when your child draws circles? ›

If your child draws lots of circles it could be that's what they like to draw. If they draw people with their hands up that's not helplessness, it could be a cheer. If they keep drawing bees, it's not a hidden anxiety about insects, it could be just that they are fun, nice things to draw.

What does it mean when kids are drawn to you? ›

Children are naturally curious and they are also drawn to people who feel 'good' to them or who are different and intriguing. They are sensitive and pick up on people's energy. How lovely that you are giving off a vibe that makes them feel safe enough to want to investigate more.

How does drawing help with self expression? ›

Art gives us the ability to express ourselves in ways that nothing else can. Self-expression allows us to understand ourselves and process our emotions. Research conducted at the Georgetown Behavioral Health Institute confirms that self-expression in the arts positively affects mood, function, cognition, and behavior.

Why is self image important kids? ›

Self-esteem helps kids cope with mistakes. It helps kids try again, even if they fail at first. As a result, self-esteem helps kids do better at school, at home, and with friends. Kids with low self-esteem feel unsure of themselves.

Why is allowing a child to draw a self-portrait important? ›

A self portrait gives children the time to study their eyes, nose, mouth and the rest of their face and body, and to work out how it all fits together – perfect for teaching children how to draw basic body shapes. 2. Creating a self portrait allows the maximum amount of artistic freedom.

Is drawing linked to intelligence? ›

Although drawing is not commonly thought of as a manifestation of intelligence, it is in fact an intellectual exercise that allows an individual to use visualization as a way to understand and project concepts— apprehension.

What kind of intelligence is shown by a child who draws well? ›

Spatial Intelligence

This type of intelligence shows patterns that prove the kid's capacity to think in three dimensions. People who develop spatial intelligence are good at solving spatial problems such as drawing and painting, reading maps, looking at pictures, solving mazes, or playing construction games.

Does drawing boost IQ? ›

Painting and sketching are highly accessible and entertaining things to accomplish many individuals prefer to paint or draw in their spare time, and it can help them improve their IQ.

Do autistic kids draw a lot? ›

As far as autism spectrum disorders (ASDs) drawings are concerned, children with autism were reported to have an unusual drawing ability, far beyond their general intelligence level [4,5,6], and drawing skills not impaired relative to age-matched typical peers [7,8].

What does drawing do for the brain? ›

We use our brains when we draw, and this not only releases endorphins, but helps build new connections and pathways. When drawing, we actively use both sides of our brain, the right for creativity, and the left for logical thinking. This strengthens both and helps develop the ability to focus and think strategically.

Do intelligent people draw better? ›

Drawing ability does not determine intelligence, there are countless factors, both genetic and environmental, which affect intelligence in later life.” In other words, don't panic if your kid's a terrible artist, or if you're now remembering your own questionable attempts at drawing as a preschooler.

Is intelligence based on creativity? ›

This isn't necessarily true. Although scientists have found a correlation between those individuals with an IQ of 120 or more having a higher level of creativity, the relationship between intelligence and creativity is more of an overlap of skills or abilities instead of a dependence on one another.

What are the 3 types of intelligence? ›

Figure 7.12 Sternberg's theory identifies three types of intelligence: practical, creative, and analytical.

What are two types of intelligence? ›

There are two specific types of intelligence, called fluid intelligence and crystallized intelligence.

Is drawing good for kids brain? ›

In addition to improving fine motor skills, drawing enables your child to draw connections between what he or she sees and what he or she does. This hand-eye coordination is important in athletic and recreational situations, as well as in academic scenarios such as penmanship lessons.

Why are smart people good at drawing? ›

They have active brain cells

It is not only an art that certain talented people, named artists, do, but studies have found the impact drawing has in one's brain. The right hemisphere of our brain is responsible for creativity and imagination.

What are autistic kids drawn to? ›

Many children with autism are drawn to water for its calming, sensory experience. In fact, a 2015 study[1] found that children with ASD enjoy swimming significantly more than children without ASD. And while water can present a safety concern, water play and swimming also offer several benefits for children with ASD.

Why are autistic kids good at art? ›

Many people with autism struggle with communication and are often visual thinkers. Art fits naturally with autism in that it can help those with autism express themselves through images while also being a soothing activity.

What do most autistic kids like? ›

They often like to repeat actions over and over and line up objects, rather than playing pretend. They usually prefer to play alone and have challenges working together with others. Various types of therapy are available to help kids with autism and their families to play together and build relationships.


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