Color Outside the Lines

Color Outside the Lines

At the heart of Hanna's philosophy is that children have unlimited creative potential. Art is often the chosen medium by which children express their thinking, doing, feeling, and expressing.  Help your child to expand his vocabulary by encouraging free play and open ended art projects. Big paintbrushes, an array of colors, and large sheets of paper will provide the tools to start this new form of discussion between parent and child.

Many parents and educators wonder when a child will color inside of the lines of a coloring book. The fact is, children will develop this ability naturally as their dexterity develops. There is no proven need to rush to introduce coloring books. The Reggio philosophy of learning encourages parents to provide blank paper to children for free thinking and self-expression.

Our Parent Educator, Patti Aretz, spoke to one of her parent classes on the topic. She asked everyone to draw a house. Parents took out a pen and most began to draw a square with a triangular roof, a rectangular door and 2 square windows. Inquisitively she asked, "Why did you all draw the same house? My house, your house, his house, they all look different, right? By restricting the imagination and creative process we program ourselves to automatically constrain ourselves to this template house when we all know that homes are all shapes and sizes."

Children boxed into a template don't have the room to openly communicate. By directing a child to draw a square house, his imagination and explorative nature is immediately stifled. Around three to four years old, children attempt representational drawing of their own accord, typically starting with "tadpole" style drawings of elongated torsos and large heads and quickly this leads to landscapes and storyboards.  These early drawings are nothing short of precious so be sure to document and save them! 

While coloring is an excellent way for young children to develop finger and wrist dexterity and good hand-eye coordination, staying inside the lines offers no advantages, says Sandra Fisher, assistant professor of early childhood education at Kuztown University, in Kuztown, PA. "It's actually developmentally inappropriate to urge children this age to color in the lines, since they don't have fine motor control yet." - Parenting Magazine

Often you will hear a child say, "I can't draw it. You do it for me. Show me how." Patti recommends to be cautious of drawing the request yourself. Rather, she says "Begin by asking your child what he thinks a home looks like or take a walk around the neighborhood to help with inspiration. Then allow the child to use pen and paper to make his own observations while on the walk. When you get home, allow the child to take the lead to return to the project. With his observation notes, you will see your budding artist develop his artistic interpretation of the home. I promise you that it will look much more exciting than a square and triangle!"