When you first hear “form drawing” you might imagine charcoal drawings of people draped with sheets (that’s what I pictured), but that’s not what I’m talking about here. There is another type of form drawing, one that Waldorf education utilizes but that has also been around long before Waldorf and is referred to in many ancient texts. In this type of form drawing, students practice one shape or pattern at a time, slowly creating the lines and forming the image as carefully as possible.
When I heard about form drawing, I was completely stumped. I knew nothing about it, and when I did learn what it was, I didn’t immediately see a purpose. Now, after reading more and seeing the benefits with my own eyes, form drawing has become our favorite new homeschooling activity.
There are many reasons you might want to consider adding a weekly form drawing lesson. Taking time to practice new forms each week can improve concentration and focus and increase hand-eye coordination. It can also be excellent pre-writing practice, since drawing straight lines and curves as “pictures” first is a great way to introduce the fine motor skills needed to form letters correctly. You can also use form drawing to correct handwriting problems or prepare a student for cursive writing (the running forms are great for this).
If you are interested in form drawing consider picking up a book on the subject (waldorfbooks.com has many to choose from) or take a look at some of the slideshow examples at Millennial Child. You can also develop your own forms, based on what your child needs to work on. Then consider some of these tips:
- Begin each week with a new form. We find this is a stress-free way to begin our lessons. Start with a quiet, calm atmosphere (I have to separate kids to even hope to manage this) so your child can focus on their form.
- Start simple, then follow the standard progression – straight lines and curved lines, followed by standing forms (shapes), then running forms. You can continue into the upper grades with new types of forms in each grade, including symmetry exercises, complicated knots, geometric designs, mandalas, and more.
- Begin big. Walk forms on the ground, draw them in the air, and trace them on a white board or chalkboard before breaking out the paper and pencils.
- Think beyond paper, crayons, and colored pencils. My daughter hates chalk (it’s a sensory thing), but we use water to “paint” the chalk forms on our board. You could also create come of the simpler forms with Playdoh, cookie dough, or even bread dough.
- Collect the form drawings and bind them into a beautiful book at the end of the year. A simple, single color border on each page is plenty of decoration, since you want the form itself to stand out. Let your child create a watercolor cover or draw a cover page on card stock, and you’ll have a beautiful keepsake you’ll both want to flip through year after year.
Michelle is a wife, mother, writer, and Cajun who prefers everything extra spicy. Follow along at Lagniappe Academy, for more real world Waldorf inspiration mixed in with the rest of their eclectic homeschooling.