Tag Archives: toddler crayon play

Why A Circular Scribble ISN’T a Circle

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I spend a lot of time in telehealth with toddlers and young preschoolers doing pre-writing.  It requires few tools, it is easy to demonstrate, and it is fun.  But when parents tell their two year-old that they drew a circle after they scribbled in a circular pattern, I stop them.

Why?

After all, copying a circular scribble is a 2.5 year-old skill, and a very important one.  Control of a curved stroke is huge for pre-writing.

Because what you say to a child who is learning pre-writing strokes matters.  A lot.

  • A circular scribble doesn’t have an optimal starting location, nor does it have a sequence.  It can be more oval, it can be more round.  It can be 3 revolutions, or 30.
  • A CIRCLE starts at the top (of the page, of the section of paper, etc) and rotates to the left.  It connects to the beginning point of the stroke.  Once.
  • Confusing the two risks making early writing harder.  I get paid a considerable amount to remediate errors like starting letters at the baseline and writing too slowly to copy from the white board.  It starts here, with inconsistent and incorrect instruction at a vulnerable period in learning.

Teaching a child that there is a difference doesn’t mean criticism.  At all.  I celebrate every circular scribble, and I demonstrate a circle when kids are ready to learn, or when I want them to scribble ON TOP OF MY CIRCLE.  Or draw a face on my circle.  You get the idea.

I want a child to notice that there is a difference, and learn what those differences are, without judgement.  This will help them understand how to execute the correct start and sequence to draw a circle when they are cognitively and motorically ready.