These portraits by ROBS Preschool students were featured in the River Oaks Baptist School’s 2022 publication of “Vine & Branch”. Each student drew a portrait of themselves at the beginning, middle and end of the 2021-2022 school year in reflection of their growth as an artist and as a person.
Nearly every artist’s body of work contains a self-portrait, inspired by one simple question: who am I? In the Preschool years, the self-portrait is more than an exploration of personal identity; it’s a valuable assessment tool of learning growth in the earliest years.
As Preschoolers grow, they begin to glean more from the world around them. Their thoughts and perceptions change just as their appearance does. Progression through the developmental stages of early childhood helps their understanding grow. And with evolved awareness and experience, comes evolved perspective.
Prekindergarten learning portfolios include examples of self-portraits from the beginning, middle, and end of the school year, along with a writing sample. We see these children move through the stages of drawing development like they would any other developmental stage. We see clear growth in self-concept, artistic expression, and fine motor skills through these portraits–which, in turn, is a clear sign our children are right on track
Can you see the growth?
A happy portrait dominated by a large, circular head and favorite colors gives way to a more realistic depiction of a face, including brown hair, green eyes, eyelashes, and eyebrows. The artist has moved from a “fantasy portrait” to a more careful analysis of self, though her work continues to be dominated by the face. By the end of the year, her style has evolved to include a toothy grin, long eyelashes, a dress, arms, legs, and feet. Her observational and reflective skills have grown tremendously over the course of the year.
This young artist begins with a portrait that includes many features–a monochromatic rectangular body with arms and legs, a head, mouth, eyes, and hair. His evolution shows a developing sense of self–now his portrait features his hair color and eye color distinguishable from his body. His hands, though disproportionate to his body, have five fingers. His blue eyes remain for the final portrait, and the work itself shows an increased awareness of the proportionality of the body. The evolution of his name also shows considerable development in his fine motor skills and dexterity.
This artist begins with a well-developed idea of what her portrait should include–all major facial features, hair, a body, arms, and legs are present. The shoulder-length dark hair personalized the otherwise generic portrait. Her mid-year portrait shows a clear sense of self as she has recreated her skin color and sports her signature ponytail and bow. The continuity seen in her final portrait reflects an artist with clear attention to detail and self-concept.