So your child came home from school with yet another picture she drew of you and her holding hands. While the scribbles are cute, have you ever found yourself wondering if they’re really an important part of school? Are they actually supporting the academic atmosphere? The answer is YES, coloring is important in early childhood education for a lot of reasons!
1. Helps Develop Hand-Strength
One of the biggest reasons coloring is important at this age is because it helps develop hand strength. As adults, we’ve been writing, typing, and doing fine motor skills for decades which means we take our hand strength for granted. Toddlers and preschoolers, however, are just beginning to build those muscles.
Hand strength is important for all hand-related fine motor skills, especially handwriting. Writing takes strength and dexterity, and coloring helps exercise these muscles. Hand strength will also support your child’s proper pencil grip.
2. Offers Practice for Pencil Grip
A crayon is likely one of the first writing instruments your child will hold. By practicing with crayons, your child is fine-tuning their proper pencil grip. Pencil grip is part hand strength and part practice. Coloring allows for both! Most improper hand grips are caused when a child develops poor grip habits before their hands are strong enough to support the proper grip.
3. Stimulates Creativity
Giving a child the opportunity to color helps stimulate the creative centers in their mind. Colors, shapes, interpretations, and imagined stories are all present when a child is coloring. Even if your child draws the same picture over and over, they’re still engaging the creative centers in the brain that process colors and shapes.
4. Encourages Self-Expression
When children have the opportunity to color, they engage their independence and self-expression. What colors should they choose? What should they draw? What will it look like? Will it be big or small? Will it have lots of colors or just one color? Will the faces be smiling or frowning? Chances are, the answers to their questions are either consciously or subconsciously expressing themselves or their emotions. Drawing is a chance for your child to work through his or her emotions and to express themselves in a safe environment. Children may not always have the words to say exactly how their feeling, but coloring will let your child express himself without needing the vocabulary to do so.
5. Improves Fine Motor Coordination
In early childhood, children are still developing the fine motor coordination skills that will eventually support their daily activities. Typing, writing, cooking, household chores, turning pages of a book, using tools, doing their hair — pretty much everything requires motor skills. When your child colors, he or she is developing their fine motor coordination. Other coloring-related activities that help develop fine motor coordination include dot-to-dot pictures, tracing, coloring inside the lines of coloring pages, playing tic-tac-toe, and copying a picture onto a blank sheet of paper.
6. Helps Develop Focus
Coloring is also a great focus-building exercise. Focus is an important skill for children to learn, not only for their academic careers but for their professional careers as well. Focus is what helps us see through any task from start to finish. You’ll notice as your child’s focus develops that his or her drawings become more intricate, taking more time to complete.
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