Tuesday, January 17, 2012

Coloring inside the lines

Today my daughter is at home sick. I had to cancel her occupational therapy appointment. There were no make-up dates available that were not during school time. To attend during school time, they pull the child out of class. I am opposed to "pull out" because I don't want her to miss out on class time and fall behind. We opt for before-after school appointments. So far this has not been a problem but I can see issues when she starts attending school a full day. Many teachers prefer to hold sessions during the regular school day. I asked the therapist what I can do at home with her this week? She suggested two activities:

One activity..."Practice writing. Her pencil grasp needs work." OK, will do. We do that almost every day anyway.

The other activity..."Practice coloring inside the lines. She colors outside the lines." I found myself thinking a second about that one and felt I needed to blog about it. My daughter loves coloring, but she doesn't understand why she has to color between the lines. Is it to teach her motor control? Or to conform to rules? She doesn't enjoy coloring at all when the method is forced on her. It limits her creativity. If I force her do things too uniformly, I am stifling her creativity. I can see the need for learning to be accurate, but not with art. Art is supposed to be enjoyable, a passion, an outlet for expression.

Tell me, which picture is more enjoyable to look at? The one with exact coloring or the one that is free-form and all over the place?

I find the free-form picture vibrant and colorful. My mind opens up to wonder what it is about.

My daughter is a little artist as all children are. Art is one of her biggest strengths, greatest gifts. Children have no fears about looking bad, so they are natural artists. Many lose their interest in art on down the line. I'm not sure why. Maybe it's courage. Maybe they've been told their art isn't good, too messy, or that they colored outside the lines.

I know that the intent of the coloring activity was to improve her motor control. She needs to learn to hold the pen and control its movement in a manner that the color does not go beyond the outline. She needs to learn to be precise because this will help her in other ways down the road. But there are other ways of learning this.

So, I am tasked today to come up with a replacement activity to coloring between the lines, one that will still stress motor control. I do not have it in me to stifle my little artist.

I have decided to give her some tiny paper and have her draw tiny scenarios. This will make her pinpoint her accuracy with her pencil and crayons in order to write small. She will conform to the restraints of the size of the paper, but she will be able to free-form what she wants to draw -- she will create her own lines. That is my compromise. It's win-win. She will be writing and illustrating her own a teeny-tiny book today. She is only five, so I will be the scribe for most of the writing. She wrote a book earlier this week and it was a great experience for her -- so creative and imaginative! I am scanning the pages and will upload later. This is much more fun than coloring in the lines.


  1. Awesome!!! Way to go Angie, and Zoe too! Love to see her art work, Nice!!!

  2. Thank you Sheila! Zoe amazes me. Hope she continues to love art. She likes to combine drawing and creative storytelling. She just wrote and illustrated a funny book about a boat that turned into a monster. I'm trying to get all of the pages scanned so I can post.