Coloring: Why it’s important

My cousin, and close friend, sent me this question about her 3 year old daughter ….

Seeing as Samantha has a new-found love of coloring with crayons, and drawing, and will literally do it for over an hour at a time — What educational and/or developmental value is seen in coloring at her age?

My first reaction was … well, just because it’s relaxing and fun!  But actually there is a lot young children can gain from spending time coloring.  Here’s a few to consider:

1.  Fine motor skills … through learning to hold the crayon properly and being able to master where the “color” goes.

2.  Frustration tolerance … coping with “messing” up or not having his/her picture they way they wanted it to be.

3.  Confidence and Self-Esteem … As with many skills, practicing and becoming good at it can really boost a child’s confidence and self-esteem.  They can look back at their pictures and see their own improvement.

3.  Attention & Focus … this is a big one.  If a child can calmly sit alone and color for an extended time (and their pictures are charged with violence and anger … because that’s a WHOLE other story) … it probably means they are well-adjusted.  Think about it … if you are to worried, anxious, scared, agitated, angry … it’s really hard to just sit and color.  To work on a page to color, it takes time and planning skills.  A child needs to be able to focus and pay attention to the task at hand.  All of this being EXTREMELY essential for success in school.

4.  Exploration with art media & color … like a lot of play for young children, just exploring with the crayons is very important.  We aren’t born knowing how to color or use crayons!  So, children can explore what happens if the press lightly … or hard, what happens when the crayon breaks … or becomes very dull, what happens when I color with the other hand or hold the crayon differently, what happens when I blend different colors together, what colors go well together, etc….

Coloring is such a wonderful, creative, low-expense way to play … that kids can do on their own, with friends and siblings, and with YOU … So, get out those crayons and markers and COLOR.

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Laura Hutchison

Laura Hutchison (aka PlayDrMom) is a chubby kid turned competitive figure skater tween turned high school pom pon girl turned MSU Spartan turned grad student turned Mrs. HutcH turned Dr. turned Mom. She adores living in the Mitten, is addicted to Diet Coke, and firmly believes that ice cream is a main food group.

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  1. Josh

    Nice post Laura. You have such a fluid and comfortable writing style that’s its always a joy to read, not to mention the super inciteful content.

  2. Laura

    Thanks, Josh!!!

  3. Keneth

    Book-marked, I love your blog! 🙂

  4. Kathy

    My kids love to color no matter what age. The principal would come in and see some of my kids coloring and probably thought I’m a lazy teacher for letting kids do so. Now I have something to back up the logic.

  5. Debbie's 24/7 Daycare

    Now I have reasons to tell parents why their child “only colored” for art today! Thanks.

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