I’ve been interested in the development of children’s drawing for some time. When I started my iPad drawing project I was thinking about the kinds of marks that very young children make when they first begin to draw. Betty Edwards, author of Drawing in the Right Side of the Brain, describes the circular movement that produce these first scribbles as the “most natural anatomically.”
Scribbling is significant for the development of literacy skills and other self-constitutive activities. Dr. Susan Rich Sheridan’s Neuroconstructive theory, discussed in her book Saving Literacy, describes how children’s scribbles produce brain patterns specifically conducive to the development of speech and literacy. She writes:
I believe that scribbling is a brain/body operation necessary to the physiology of human perception as that perception includes thinking with symbols. As scribbles circle their way into spirals, these distinctive marks map onto what are called phase portraits, or EEG’s of brains which are recognizing something. The more circular the shape of the EEG, the more orderly the thinking. And so it occurs with children’s scribbles. They become increasingly orderly.
According to my Neuroconstructive theory, the marks we call scribbles operate as “primers, ” or “bumpers ” for creating highly attentive, or “aroused ” brain states, allowing children to think increasingly powerfully and efficiently, using symbols. Neuroconstructive theory also proposes that scribbling and drawing help children control and re-direct emotions, making even transcendent brain states possible.