The Joy and Benefits of Coloring

Posted January 10, 2023

The Joy and Benefits of Coloring

By Tracy Riekenberg

In this day and age, when electronic entertainment is easily accessible, “best toys” lists are abundant, and families are busy running here and there, one of the best fine motor activities for children of all ages is often overlooked. That activity is COLORING.

Remember when you were a kid, lying on your stomach flipping through your brand-new Barbie (or He-Man or Disney or Transformers or …) coloring book trying to find the perfect page to start, looking for the best crayon to fit your hand, coloring with such concentration that your tongue would stick out of your mouth a little, and then tearing the page out to proudly display on your refrigerator? It was probably fun for you, and a bit of a reprieve for your parent, but while you were doing all that coloring, you were also learning.

Besides the obvious fine-motor-skill building, coloring exercises the brain. For young children, practicing sitting and working on a skill like coloring flexes their focus muscle and helps their bodies and brains prepare for more “academic” exercises like reading and writing. Coloring helps children develop a “stick-with-it” attitude as well, as they lengthen their attention span and recognize when the project is finished. In addition, when children are coloring, they are practicing making decisions, like choosing what color to make the cat.

Coloring also flexes children’s language. When very young children begin to color, the adult may narrate what they are doing, pointing out what colors they are choosing and naming the object that’s being colored. Children also learn descriptive words like bright, dark, light, warm, and cool, as well as art terms like shade, shadow, stripe, polka dot, and more.

And of course, coloring strengthens hand muscles, which are necessary for writing. Children can practice correct pencil/crayon grip, work on big strokes and small strokes, put light and heavy pressure on the paper, and draw different types of lines, squiggles, circles, and more that will be needed for writing letters and words.

In addition, coloring is relaxing and enjoyable for children. It is an affordable and portable activity, and it offers easy bonding time with adults. At All Seasons when children are coloring, a teacher is often near them, also coloring. The adults and children talk and share in a different way when the focus isn’t solely on the conversation. We teachers learn so much about children when we’re coloring with them. This is often the time children open up to teachers about what is important to them, like their family, pets, friends, toys, and so on.

We encourage you not to discredit or forget about the simple joy of coloring with your child. There are plenty of free coloring pages online if you can’t find a coloring book to your liking. Find one you and your child both love, print off a few copies, get a new box of crayons, and enjoy a bit of time together, relaxing, coloring, learning, and bonding.