My 4 year-old daughter is starting to learn how to write some letters and tries to write her name. She does some mirror writing, so a letter like L will look as _|.

In any case, today we did some funny games with letters in which she would write some letters and I had to write them again and so on. Then, I sketched a very basic picture of a triangle with a circle attached to it, and asked her to replicate it. To my surprise, her attempt was nowhere close to what I had painted: she was focusing a lot on what I painted, but the image she was creating was nothing similar to a triangle; at the end, she did succeed in painting a circle.

I didn't get alarm or anything, but prompted me to think: when do pre schoolers learn, or start to be able, to mimic an abstract image they are seeing just above?

Just to give more context, she is currently able to draw basic shapes and even some human bodies with different parts of the body (head with hair, body, legs, arms, feet...) or landscapes (trees, houses, paths...).

2 Answers 2


There is a video I find quite interesting. It shows how kids can have trouble drawing proportions. This is mainly due to the fact that naturally and without training WE ALL focus more on given details. WE psychologically distort reality. And drawing is a way to express and to show it.

Older people (and artists) trained it more over time and are thus better at correcting this distortion. But the video shows you that kids even older than your daughter can substantially deform, displace or even omit elements they observe.

So kids start mimicking objects into drawings very early but it lasts years until they stop missing elements.

  • I enjoyed the video a lot! It is a great insight on how kids handle this. Very appreciated, thanks.
    – fedorqui
    Nov 25, 2019 at 7:08

Childrens development are all different, it depends on how much they draw, how well their fine motorskill & cognitive understanding has developed.

At 4 1/2, they usually have the good hold of the pen, and and can draw "whole" people, not just head with two feet.. They also starts to paint background, like the sun.

At 5 they usually start to paint people with hair, fingers.

BUT all children develop different, and the most important is let them to have fun, and not to pressure them into something..

See for example https://empoweredparents.co/child-development-drawing-stages/

  • Hello Adam and thanks for your answer! I absolutely agree on the it depends answer, but I was hoping to get some cognitive-based answer. For example, I know a 1 year-old cannot stand on one feet, because it takes more time. In any case, thanks for your time and yes, I am letting her to have fun :)
    – fedorqui
    Nov 21, 2019 at 13:51
  • I've updated my answer with a link.. Nov 21, 2019 at 13:54

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