Thursday, September 5, 2013

why should my child learn to color inside the lines?

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if you've been at Crayon Freckles a few times, you know that my motto is to think outside the crayon box.  as in, find ways to explore, learn, and have fun with children that are beyond the normal scope.  i'm going to take a different view of that today.  we hear all the time how children should be able to express themselves freely with art and how worksheets are bad for young kids.  though i agree for the most part, i also think that these things are imperative to do at home for children headed to public schools.

but why?
why should my child learn to color inside the lines? 
why should they be made to do worksheets and structured art projects?

the answer.
because that's what public schools do.  i'm not bashing public schools.  but worksheets are used.  "follow these steps" art is done.  so, if we spend our whole time home-educating our kiddos on outside-the-box learning activities and free creative expression, we're doing them a bit of a disservice.  i think entering public school will be harder on them as they are made to work on photocopied papers and within creative parameters.

how to teach coloring in the lines, product art and worksheets.
this is a tough one.  ultimately, we have to assess our child's learning style and structure our teaching surrounding it. 

"you're scribbling," the 4 year old girl said to Bear at vacation Bible school.  "why are you doing that?"  i saw my sweet boy's face crumble with embarrassment at the situation and newfound disappointment in his picture.  thus began my internal struggle over encouraging him to try to color inside the lines.  i don't like telling him that he should try to do it.  so i had to create a game out of it.  i got a brand new box of crayons and let him pick out a new coloring book. (his options were ones created by the do-a-dot company as they have bold, solid lines and fairly large spaces.)  coloring book pages laid out in front of us, i playfully challenged him to "paint" the vehicles without getting the "paint" (crayon) on the "room" (white space) around it. 

the product art is a tricky one for me, as i hate it.  with a passion.  the best technique i've found for this is to surf Pinterest with Bear at my side.  he usually finds something that he likes and wants to recreate.

Bear {5} loves our learning activities. but he rejoices in doing worksheets because it makes him feel more like Pip, his 17 yr old sister.  so when he wants to do workbooks, i get them out and we find a few pages that appeal to him or that can help him further work on his skills.  he gets to focus independently on his "work" and i get a few minutes to work beside him on my own projects. 
do you encourage your child to try and stay inside the lines and/or use product art or worksheets? why or why not?
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Emma @ Our Whimsical Days said...

My 4-year-old sometimes gets frustrated when she can't stay in the lines, but it's not something I stress. It will come in time and really, not all that important. I think you're taking the right approach about the workbooks. I don't like them either, but if your child is interested in them, then by all means go for it!

wiffle said...

Sometimes I think the purpose of that is also to develop a bit of hand-eye co-ordination but as we home school I don't worry about it much. We tend to pick an artist and have a go at their style and learn a bit about them. If they are drawing or colouring then it is up to them. It is their art and they can't get it wrong. I do think that we the product driven thing is really tough on children and not a great way to develop creativity.

The Monko said...

In my opinion colouring inside the lines is not really art - the only creative aspect is thinking what colour to use. It is more a lesson in following rules and being careful with fine motor movements. So why not teach it as such and explain that its an important activity to participate in. And keep art separate and creative, liberating, freedom to take your crayon where ever it pleases you to take it whether thats in the lines or all the way over them.

Unknown said...

My daughter was, also, hurt when a classmate told her in kindergarten that she was doing "scribble scrabble" work. I had never used the word scribbling at all with her because like you we did mostly open ended art projects.

She quickly learned to conform to the expectations in public kinder. But actually, that is something that became a concern to me. The creativity in her artwork and other endeavors suffered. Once she was home for over a month in the summer, her creativity flourished once again.

I think you can separate activities into adult directed ones where there can be expectations for neat work, but it needs to be balanced by child directed activities where they are free to be as "sloppy" as they want to be. That balance is what I am striving for now that we homeschool.

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