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Is It Just Coloring?

Jane Tyson
Child coloring a groundhog picture.

Coloring is pretty much a universal activitiy From a toddler's scribbles to the adult coloring books now available, coloring is fun. But the benefits of coloring, for a toddler, extend beyond just being fun.

Earlier this month I visited a toddler room. They were busy coloring a picture of a groundhog. Some were making lines, some were making dots. No one colored the entire picture and no one stayed completely inside the lines. These things which an adult might view as a failure were of no consequence to a toddler. They were learning different things; like how to hold the crayon, how to move the crayon across the paper to make the desired line or dot, how much pressure they needed to use to have the crayon make a mark on the paper. They were developing the small muscles in their hands. These are all skills that they will need before they can begin writing 

During this activity the teacher was moving among the children talking about the color brown and the groundhog itself. She noted that some of the children were making dots rather than lines on their groundhog and that she had observed some of the children doing the same thing with paint brushes during a previous activity. 

Hopefully you can see the value in a coloring activity. And it is such as easy activity to do at home. Just grab some paper and crayons and color. Talk with your child and ask questions about his work. Notice and comment on things like the colors she chooses to use, the length of the lines or the number of dots. Comment on things like how dark or light the lines are and the effort it takes to make that happen. At this age, these kinds of comments serve to encourage your child. He feels successful because you noticed and commented on his efforts rather than judged on the quality of the end product. Talking to your child from this perspective will often encourage him to do more. 

Here's to a refrigerator covered with your child's drawings! Happy coloring!