“Drawing With Your Four to Eleven Year Old”

This is a book written by Donna Simmons, and people ask me about it all the time.  I think so many parents are intimidated by the drawing part of the Waldorf curriculum, so I thought I would run through what this book has to offer. 

The introduction talks about how this book is a “short introduction to drawing with your child [that] is a very simple and basic glimpse at how parents might take methods used in Waldorf schools and work with them at home.”  What I appreciate here is her acknowledgement that home with Waldorf is different than Waldorf school, and understanding of the intimidation that many parents feel with drawing and the fact that the grades material is taught through artistic approaches.

The next section talks about “Materials” and outlines the specifics of block and stick crayons, pencils, other materials, paper and what suppliers to consider getting supplies from.    She then addresses the question most parents ask which is why do all the children’s pictures look the same in the beginning?  Why do all the children draw the same picture?  She writes that, “An important foundation to Waldorf education is the deeply held belief that it is imperative to work with the child at his appropriate stage of learning.  Young children, up to 6 or 7, learn best by imitation and so when the children paint or draw they do what their teacher does.”  There is further guidance about the use of Main Lesson Books and the drawing that may accompany main lessons in the grades. She also provides notes on outlining and painting and then moves into talking about drawing with each grade.

Kindergarten – there is a small amount of information that probably will not be satisfying to the mother new to Waldorf whose oldest child is of Kindergarten age (because there should be more, right??) :),  but will be perfectly satisfying to mothers who have been through the Kindy phase and realize how drawing is a small part of the daily rhythm at home usually at this point.  LOL.  My main advice to the mother of a Kindergartner is to simply slow down.  The artistic things can be important in the Waldorf Kindergarten at home, but remember, the main focus should be on rhythm, fostering of gratitude, getting your child into their body and protecting those 12 senses, along with the development of YOUR skills in different areas of the curriculum.    Please do see some of the Waldorf Kindergarten posts on this blog for ideas!

First Grade – Donna talks about making borders for the Main Lesson Book, drawing of figures and also an introduction to form drawing. 

Second Grade – Donna talks about the transition to making drawings of more detail and provides examples of Main Lesson Book pages to draw from.

Third Grade – She talks about how to work with drawing in conjunction with some of the Third Grade blocks of building, Old Testament, and provides examples of how to draw animals and the habitats the animals live in. 

Fourth Grade – Donna talks about drawing maps, the use of proportions and blocking out pictures. 

Fifth Grade – Drawing becomes more realistic and challenging in the Fifth Grade Waldorf curriculum.  She talks about free-hand geometric drawings and the role of drawing in the ancient blocks, and of course the drawing that is prevalent in the botany blocks.

She then has notes about “Looking Ahead”.  Sixth Grade is about perspective drawing, and mastering charcoal pencils. She provides several pages of resources regarding Basic Waldorf Education, Form Drawing and Painting, and Drawing.

In short, this little book is about 36 pages long and provides a fine overview of the progression of drawing in the curriculum with color examples and some detailed techniques.  I am personally glad to have this book on my shelf because it is a fast resource I can turn to the know what kinds of drawings I can expect with each grade and quick examples of how this might look for each grade.  Another book I can also recommend is “Drawing with Block Crayons”, which is more intensive in techniques but also requires you to really sit down with the book and work with it – you cannot just leaf through that book and absorb it, LOL. 

I think this book is worth checking out, as is “Drawing with Block Crayons”; however be forewarned you will need other resources for Form Drawing.

Hope that helps,


6 thoughts on ““Drawing With Your Four to Eleven Year Old”

  1. I always laugh at the comments about how “the drawings all look the same”. If you really look at them, they are not at all the same! Same content, but totally unique in their execution. How else can therapeutic and remedial specialists use drawings for their evaluations?

  2. Pingback: Waldorf In The Home With The Five-Year-Old « The Parenting Passageway

  3. For the kindergarten child would you recommend block or stick crayons? My kindy child, who is homeschooled, has grip issues, despises any request of writing, and seems to draw/color very “lightly”, so I’m wondering which would be best for her. I’ve tried researching this but am not coming up with much.

    • Hi Gwyneth, There really is no easy answer for this in some ways…It is a huge source of controversy right now within Waldorf circles. I refer you to here: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW3606.pdf and here: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW3607.pdf and here: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW3608.pdf.
      In general, in Waldorf homeschooling, we start writing letters in the first grade at the age of six and a half or seven and use sticks to write letters and numbers and form drawing and block crayons for drawing. Some people use block crayons for drawing backgrounds and stick crayons for drawing details in a picture.
      I think the other place to look is to take the kindergarten year and use this time to build up fine motor control for the writing that would be used in the grades. The ability to grasp and use the hand is not limited to writing, of course. I refer you to this article on the development of the hand by Ingun Schneider who is a physical therapist and Waldorf remedial specialist: http://www.waldorflibrary.org/Journal_Articles/GW4102.pdf
      In my experience, we must also look at the development of the trunk and upper body/trunk muscle control and posture. Gross motor skill development is also an important basis and component of what is going on with fine motor skills. There is an article here from a therapist perspective (a therapist trained in neurodevelopmental treatment, NDT) here: http://www.ndta.org/downloads/NetworkNovDec03.pdf

      Hope that helps, many blessings,

  4. Pingback: Waldorf In The Home With The Five-Year-Old | Applesong

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