Thursday, February 4, 2010

Human Figure Drawing

Did you know that a child's difficulty in READING or MATH can be mediated to success through the drawing of a human figure?
It's true!
I'm not going to get into all the quotes and tests that prove it because that is not the purpose of this blog. The purpose here is the HOW-TO of using the tool of the Human Figure Drawing.

A few basics before I share our attempt.

It is suggested that you work one-on-one with your child
1. Give your child a piece of paper. Ask them to draw a human figure on it. Make sure the paper is in landscape position. (You may need to explain 'landscape' to your child)
2. Draw the picture. There is no time limit. Assure them that they can correct the drawing (ie. crossout lines, etc.)
3. Observe how they perform the project
*amount of hesitation or confidence
*did they use planning or were they sloppy?
*what was the child's reaction to the completed drawing - frustrated, happy
4. Mediate their picture focusing on the body image representation using the handout checklist

Here's our picture:
At first, I was horrified and shocked.
I thought, "What does this mean?" I thought perhaps this was a big waste of time and some sort of joke!
But I took a breath and dove in.
I asked her why she chose to draw a skelteon of a human being.
And she looked at me simply and said, "You told me to draw a human figure."
"I did. What does human figure mean to you?"
"A human figure is what we were learning about before Christmas." (We spent time studying the Human Body this fall).
"Yes, we did study the body. And is the skeleton your favourite part?"
"No. You just said draw a human figure and that is a human figure. Did you want it to have skin?"
Oh! What a great mediated moment! I realized that her and I had different definitions to the words I was using. (And then a big light bulb went off--how many times has this been happening through out our relationship???Eek!)
So we had a discussion on the importance of clarity and understanding what other people are really saying and meaning when they are talking.
After that, I forged ahead and we talked about the various things on the checklist.
One hand only had three fingers and a thumb. I had her hold up her hand and compare the two.
"Oh, I know hands have four fingers. Just sometimes I want to do it quick so I just do three fingers."
A great discussion on accuracy and precision ensued. Why would being accurate be important? How can doing things quickly give the wrong information?
As we went through the questions, she was quite pleased with her drawing. She learned what the word 'trunk' meant in terms of body description and then we discussed drawing life the way we observe life. This took on a new flavour as we got to the checklist where it asked about clothing. She giggled quite a bit over the idea of bones underneath clothes with no skin. She recognized that a skeleton's eye sockets and a person's eyes are much different. We had a good-natured laugh together as we went through some of the checklist. I stopped after she had 5 missing items.
The cognitive functions that were being worked on here were Definition of the Problem and Receptive Verbal Tools and Concepts (precision and accuracy).
I can definitely see how these two areas have affected mathematics. Math is all about problems. And if she has had trouble with the definition of the problem, she's going to have trouble with every step after that.
Light bulb moment.
Back to the drawing board for us and more human figure drawings to come!

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