Recently, I have been noticing how a desire to represent something can lead the development of skills. Or, maybe the burgeoning development of fine motor skills leads children to find something they passionately want to represent.
I'm not sure which it is, but I have seen Owen, MacGuire and Yates, children who never cared much for the studio, itching to get here to draw or make Starwars stuff, farm equipment, maps or rockets. Sometimes it's like a switch turns on for children, and suddenly they are in the 'making' zone. When this happens, the sophistication of the representations increase exponentially in a short time.
When I was a kid my Mom was known as an amazing teacher, whose specialty was teaching "bad boys" to read. She could reach children who had written off school in favor of football, motorcycles, hunting, or street life. It is from her that I learned that listening is the most important thing in helping children to learn and to love learning. She could listen to her students, connect to them, and find the key to unlock their interest -and then she brought them books, articles, and information, and helped them decode the text. Soon, the student would be making their way through school, having learned to read comic books, car magazines, or stories about hunting dogs.
I see this at work in the studio all the time, especially among boys. If they can bring their interests to school with them, they seem happier, more creative, and willing to bear the feeling of disequilibrium it takes to learn new media and techniques.