18-21 months, 22-24 months, 24-28 months, 3 years old, Casa, Family life, Montessori philosophy, Preschool, toddler

In praise of scribbling

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“And these are our scribbling materials.”

I remember my Montessori trainer, Carolina Mix, saying these words as she toured us around her classroom, gesturing to a small tray holding smaller slips of paper and a few crayons.

I had all kinds of negative associations with the word scribbling.

img_0294-e1549644477268.jpg“Just scribbling.” Mess. Chaos. Disorder. Failure.

You see, colouring was a serious business when I was a child. When I was six, my best friend Abby was the classroom’s best colourer (a true calling and indeed a real word at that age). One day I finished my work — a photocopied colouring page — and when I handed it in, my teacher exclaimed “This is wonderful! Are you sure Abby didn’t colour it?” Ouch.

25 years later, meeting the scribbling work in the toddler classroom felt like a revelation. What if one was meant to scribble? What if all those black outlines were useless anyway?

Finding myself once again in a pint-sized classroom, my teacher-trainer demonstrated modelling use of the materials. An adult, sitting down at a toddler-sized table, picking up a crayon, and scribbling. Nothing representational — no trees, suns, houses, or dogs. No comparison.

Just colour and movement and experience. The feeling of crayon in hand, wax against paper.

What freedom. What beauty.

Note: These are our family’s favourite high quality crayons (it really does make an experiential difference for the artist!) and this is our preferred art paper, which I cut into smaller, more manageable sizes. [Affiliate links.]

Art above by Sage, age 3.75.

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