Important Scribbles: What Drawings May Say About Lives at Home

Unfortunately for you, faithful readers, I’m operating on a bit of a time crunch today. Because of that, we will forgo our usual lofty education discussion in favor of something a little different: Drawing. I can’t say I’m sad about the diversion; drawing happens to be one of my favorite pastimes. Besides, I’m sure you all need a break after yesterday’s very, very exciting event at the Colorado Supreme Court.

I like to consider myself a titan in the world of little guy art. Fire-breathing dragons, Play Doh monsters, aliens—you name it, I’ve drawn it. But as it turns out, my drawings may reveal more about me than my somewhat nerdy inclinations. A new study from the University of North Carolina Chapel Hill indicates that the drawings of six year olds may offer important hints into what’s going on in those children’s lives.

The study’s psychological underpinnings are a bit dense for those of us who are not shrinks (is it still okay to say shrinks?), but a rundown from NPR sums things up nicely:

… [T]he team studied the prevalence of certain qualities — sad faces, distance from parents, etc. — and showed that they point to chaos at home, something that had only been suspected before … [C]hildren who experienced chaos at home — including high levels of noise, excessive crowding, clutter and lack of structure — were more likely to draw themselves at a distance from their parents or much smaller in size relative to other figures.

I don’t find these findings to be particularly surprising, and I’m guessing you don’t, either. But the cool part of the study isn’t that it found what most of us would have guessed subjectively, it’s that these researchers believe they may have found an objective way to evaluate the drawings and link their characteristics back to kids’ experiences at home. Fascinating stuff, really.

And for those of you who are wondering, the study was very specifically designed around kids who were exactly six years old when the research was conducted. Why?

Six years old is the “sweet spot” for such a test … Any younger, and a child can’t control her pencil. Any older, and she begins to internalize the concept of an ideal family, which could then influence her drawings.

I take some offense to that assertion; I’m practically a five-year-old version of da Vinci. Or so my mom tells me, anyway.

Okay, friends. I’ve got to run. Check out the full study if you’d like more information.