Does your child like to color? Mine certainly do, but can I share a secret? I’ve come to dislike coloring books. Not long ago, my son, Bennett was in a class where he was asked to color a landscape. Because he didn’t stay within the lines, the instructor asked him to do the assignment again. He received approval for the second attempt because it didn’t look quite so much like scribbling. While I understand that coloring within the lines helps young children develop fine motor skills, I just don’t think it’s very creative. Sure, you get to choose a color, but then you’re required to fill in someone else’s drawing.
When I asked Bennett why he didn’t color within the lines, he told me it was because he wanted to finish up really fast. I can imagine that to Bennett, coloring inside the lines is a menial chore like folding laundry or washing dishes. It can be relaxing at times, but usually you just want to complete the task as quickly as possible.
In a recent story for National Public Radio, Steve Drummond explains how coloring books also discourage independent thinking in children. When children see a house or a bird drawn in a certain way in a coloring book, they begin to assume that’s how their own drawing of a house or bird should look.
Art educators suggest that instead of requiring children to color in a pre-made drawing, we should encourage them to do the drawing first and then fill it in with color. Another great idea for families is to have a grownup create the drawing that the child colors and then switch
Last month, Bennett made a drawing that he subsequently colored. It’s a double-decker bus with ten wheels that gives out valentines and cupcakes. He may not have colored within the lines of his drawing, but I love the imaginative story behind his “valentine bus.”
If your child wants to color outside the lines, I invite you to join us at CMEE for our Art Party and StART Studio classes beginning this month. I promise there will be no coloring books or worksheets involved!