Even now as a grown up I still love to colour and given the opportunity to sit down with one of the kids for a colouring session I’ll jump at the chance (… we will gloss over the issue of exactly how old I am!).
Although having fun should always be the main focus of anything crafty or creative when it comes to our kids there’s actually more to the simple act of colouring than you might think.
Learning To Concentrate.
Children need to learn that some times it is necessary to be still. This is just as important for your sanity as it is for their development.
To begin with kids don’t want to sit and colour for extended periods of time however as they progress their attention span will improve and they will concentrate for longer.
Quiet time gives your child chance to rest and their body the opportunity to recuperate from physical activity. It has a positive impact on every day life from giving you short periods of respite during your normal daily routine to teaching them that when you are in situations where you would like your child to sit and be patient, like the doctors waiting room, they can do so without a fuss.
Hand Eye Coordination And Fine Motor Skills.
It’s worth remembering children will not be able to colour inside the lines from the get go and it may be that other kids your child’s age will do it first. Don’t get hung up on this. If you are concerned have a quiet word with your child’s teacher meanwhile encourage them to enjoy what they are doing and give them the room to develop.
When a toddler picks up a crayon initially they will use a clenched fist grip. Learning to hold a pencil takes time and is a considerable skill for a child to master.
Colouring along with your child can be a huge benefit as they will observe how you are holding your colouring pencil and how you stay inside the lines then strive to copy you.
Something To Be Proud Of.
It may just be a scribble to you but your child put their heart in to it. Praising their drawing will help them to develop confidence in their abilities. Consider putting aside a section of wall where you can display their art to show them they can be proud of their achievements. It’s a great way for them to make their mark on their own room but even better in the kitchen or hall way where other people will comment on their art work and give them praise.
Learning To Recognise Colours.
Even if you feel your child is too young to learn the colours you can still start to reinforce their names by mentioning them as your child scribbles.
“I like your yellow squiggle.”
“Oh you are using blue. That’s my favourite colour.”
“Grandma’s scarf is red like that.”
Once your child moves on to paint there is a lot of fun to be had experimenting and mixing two, or more, colours together to make a new colour.
Obviously as a prolific crafter I am a little biased here but there’s nothing quite like doing something creative to calm you down, improve your mood and make you feel better about yourself which boosts your self confidence and enhances your well being.
Getting creative gives your child the chance to chill out and sit quietly while learning to make decisions about their project including planning and implementing their own ideas.
I grew up in a time where you were bombarded with phrases like “Blue and green should not be seen” and “Don’t wear stripes with spots” … well who says?
Children are not born with boundaries or a fear of experimenting and so while you do want them to learn how to recreate a scene with green grass, a blue sky and a yellow sun you also want them to play with colour and design to find their own style.
Some of the best advancements have been made because somebody was brave enough to step outside the confines of their craft.
We live in a fast paced world. You may not consider yourself to be artistic and the thought of a messy craft might fill you with dread but you can sit down with your child for ten minutes and colour in. They are not going to care whether your colours go together or how well you stay inside the lines they will just love spending time with you.
When it comes to crafting I’m a huge advocate of bending the rules, some of the best results come from experimenting and pushing the boundaries, however before you get excited and throw the rule book out of the window there are things your kids need to learn first.
Any Friends fans out there will recognise the Monica quote “Rules are good. Rules help control the fun!”. Alright so that is just a line from a sitcom and it sounds extreme but there is still relevance here.
One of the most important things to tackle is teaching your child not to draw or paint on the furniture or the walls. They don’t know this is wrong unless you tell them and although you might feel that it’s not the end of the world kids do need to learn respect for their surroundings. To start with make sure the crayons and paints are put away when the kids are finished with them which will help prevent any lapses of judgement before your child fully understands what is and isn’t acceptable. We are lucky that this has never been a big deal in our house … I dropped it in to the conversation several times early on and I’ve never needed to go beyond that. To begin with we had a table that we did messy things on and this helps reinforce the idea that there are places where it’s alright to have the odd splash or slip. Yes paint, glue and water still get knocked over in our house too but if it’s in our kitchen where I can easily clean it up then it’s no big deal.
Another no no is the child putting the crayon in their mouth. If you get on top of this when it’s just crayons you will avoid any unfortunate run ins with felt tips or biros later on.
Your house rules are up to you. My mum cannot stand being sticky so her rules differ from mine and there’s nothing wrong with your child learning that people and places have different rules.
I am a member of several Facebook craft based groups and there are still plenty of people who will tell you that their chosen craft should be done a specific way but for the most part having fun and experimenting is definitely the way to go so once you’ve got your basic rules in place let your imagination loose and enjoy being creative.
There is a danger that we are producing a generation who can not sit still unless they have some kind of tech in their hand. Why not pop a small notebook and a pack of mini crayons in to your bag so they are available to occupy your child at any time. As they get older they might enjoy making lists or plans as well as drawing which will help them practice their handwriting.
Did You Know … ?
The internet has a huge amount of free printables that you can run off on your printer and use as you would a colouring book? Take a look at the Free Colouring Pages section on our information site Pocket Parent here.