The Importance of Colouring

The Importance of Colouring

It is essential that young children – toddlers – start drawing and colouring early. It doesn’t matter if they draw the same thing repeatedly. It also doesn’t matter if it’s a mere scrawl. Little children need to strengthen their hands and fingers and the only way to go about it is with an art tool in hand. I can remember taking a red crayon with a friend, oh we must’ve been about four years old, and that’s the only colour we used for one of my colouring books. My friend’s name was Carola, which quite ironic if you place it next to “colouring”! As adults, our hands are already used to holding anything from a crayon, to a pencil to a calligraphy pen (if we must). Some of us even have a little knob on our middle finger where said instrument rests as we push it across the page. Children still need to develop these skills and this starts by exercising their fine motor skills by way of colouring (or scribbling). It also entails holding the crayon correctly and if your child is only ever using its fingertips on a cell phone screen, these hand muscles take far longer to develop. Using your hands in this way is not only important for writing, but also for typing, paging, brushing your hair, tying shoelaces, etc.

Crayons allow your child to be creative. It’s available in so many colours and may be used on so many different mediums. Colours, shapes and an exploration of the imagination all come to the fore when children are allowed to play with crayons – be that on a blank page or in a colouring book. It helps with self-expression and in this way develops their individuality and independence. A simple decision as to what colour should be used for what item may be made independently and is greatly influenced by an individual’s emotional well-being. The blank page creates a healthy space where you can express yourself and ponder your personal reality. Little children often lack the vocabulary for this kind of thing, but a creative activity such as colouring/drawing creates all sorts of possibilities for personal expression. It has also been found that those suffering with Alzheimer’s benefit greatly by playing around with a colouring book. It also reduces high blood pressure and soothes anxiety.

With these kinds of benefits to hand, one wonders why we stop colouring as adults. Is it because we view it as a childish activity? I can assure you that the hours spent on a bookshop floor browsing colouring books have roused plenty a high eyebrow from my peers – I guess they think the books I’m buying are for my daughter ...

It has been found that children who are constantly propped up in front of a screen, be it the TV or the computer (or i-Pad), battle to focus, i.e. it affects the functioning of the eye. Besides this physical ailment, they also battle to concentrate (or have a short span of attention). By providing a child with a pen and paper, you are expecting them to keep themselves occupied as well as to concentrate. A creative activity can only be completed by the individual who started it. As your child’s concentration span improves, the end-product will improve and it will take longer to complete as it becomes more and more intricate.

Psychologists made an interesting discovery during a study of creativity in children. They found that it helps those with autism. Interpreting the world around us is especially difficult for these children, but with the possibilities offered by crayons, paper, colouring pictures, etc. lead to great improvements for them. It helps them to interpret the world around them and because of this, their communicative and social abilities improved.

You could view me as “old fashioned” for passing so many colouring books and colouring activities on to my daughter. The fact is, her fine motor skills needed to be strengthened (yes, before she went to play school) and this is impossible with a cell phone. Humans are creative beings and if you’re allowed to be so as a child, it will help you during adulthood too.

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