I was asked this question a lot when I was teaching preschool, and even now friends, family and blog readers still ask me –
“My preschooler doesn’t like to draw, what should I do?”
The short answer to that question is ‘nothing’.
And the long answer? Well…
Sure, drawing is a great way to work on fine motor development and creativity, and to practice skills related to writing, but it’s not the only way to work on those things, and usually kids who are not interested in drawing are busy working on other skills and will come to drawing and writing in their own time if you don’t pressure them.
But I am a Mum, and I know what it’s like when you have a four and half year old that never draws, or one who seems to want to to draw but lacks confidence, and while I stand by my response of ‘don’t worry’ I know that’s pretty much impossible.
And sometimes, some kids do need some gentle encouragement to work on drawing and related skills, and there are things you can do to encourage a non-drawer to pick up a pencil and have a go, or to find other ways to work on those skills.
Here are a few ideas you could try…
Ten Ways to Encourage a Child Who Doesn’t Like Drawing.
Offer interesting things to draw with.
Try something other than boring old crayons and markers…
- Soft chalk pastels
- Oil pastels
- wet chalk
- white pencils or markers on black paper
- black fine liners
- water pencils (draw then paint)
- oil pastels and oil (draw then turn it into paint)
- Add rulers and geometry tools.
Offer interesting things to draw on.
Get a reluctant drawer interesting with some new, different and a little crazy!
- Get a clipboard and take drawing outside.
- Draw with water and a paint brush on the concrete.
- Draw with chalk on the trampoline.
- Draw on a really looooong piece of paper, or a really small piece, or round pieces….
- Draw on a balloon.
- Draw on your skin (with face paints or non-toxic markers)
- Draw on a big cardboard box
- Draw on foil.
- Draw on graph paper.
Give them lots of opportunities to draw without pressure or direction.
Some children shy away from drawing because they don’t think they can ‘do it right’ so providing lots of oppertunities to draw on their own terms, when it is not a special activity, when no one else is watching, can give these children the space to experiment and practice without pressure.
Have drawing implements and paper always freely available so your child can draw or write whenever they like, without having to ask and without the pressure of anyone ‘watching’. Try setting up a drawing basket with lots of fun items in it.
Make it relate to something that interests them.
Add drawing and mark making opportunities to whatever activity they love best.
- Add a basket of drawing tools to block play for making signs and accessories.
- Include drawing in dramatic play – set up a post office or a shop that needs signs.
- Add drawing to Legos.
- Tape markers to the back of matchbox cars, trains or dinosaurs.
- Draw on a paper plane or other paper creation
- Add drawing to loose parts play
Find meaningful reasons to draw and write.
Some kids need a good, practical, reason to draw.
- Send a letter to a family member (it’s often good to get them to write first so you can write back).
- Draw your own postcards with our free printable.
- Draw a list of things they’d like for their birthday or Christmas.
- Make a sign for their bedroom door, or a ‘please don’t break my Lego construction’ sign.
- Write and illustrate a book together.
- Create a sheet of wrapping paper for a special present.
Appeal to their senses.
Make it messy if they like getting dirty – draw in finger paint, shaving cream, or a salt or sand tray.
Or keep it clean if they tend to avoid messy play – put the finger paint in a snap lock bag, and offer pencils or markers instead of crayons or chalk that can leave hands feeling greasy or dirty.
Get their whole body involved.
Sitting still at a table to draw may be difficult for some kids, and just plain boring for others, but getting more than just their hands involved might help.
- Buy a big roll of paper and draw a HUGE picture on the floor.
- Draw around each other to make a life sized person.
- Put some paper under the swing and draw as you glide past.
- Draw a chalk maze outside on the concrete.
Make it easy to get started.
Sometimes it is just getting started that is difficult or overwhelming. Try some of our free printable drawing prompts for a simple starting point that still allows for creativity, or use this collaborative doodle drawing for a fun beginning and activity that you can do together.
Make it about the process not the product.
Make your drawing activities about the doing and drawing, not about the how it looks in the end.
Notice and comment on what your child is doing when as they draw – “you are making lots of lines” “you’ve used lots of red and green” “it looks like you are enjoying creating”. Try asking them to tell you about their drawing and follow their lead rather than trying to guess what it is or force them to talk about it. It’s great if your child wants to show you their drawing or creation, but it’s no big deal if they don’t.
Accept that many of the same skills can be practiced without using a pencil.
It really is ok if your child isn’t into drawing right now. Instead offer lots of other opportunities to use those small muscles in the hands and fingers so they can build their skills, co-ordination and confidence, and realise there are many more ways to be creative than just doing art.
- Building with Lego and other construction sets with small pieces.
- Creating with play dough and clay
- Loose parts play
- Eye dropper activities.
- Scissor activities.
- Threading activities.
- Take apart an old appliance.
- peg boards, tap tap (hammer and shape sets), pattern blocks and other fine motor toys.
Do you have a child who is not into drawing?
Does it worry you or are you content to let them come to drawing in their own time?
Perhaps you have a child who has never been interested? How did you encourage them?
I’d love to hear your thoughts and ideas – please leave a comment!