I used to think that making it rain coloring pages was a cop out- a lazy, uninspired way of filling gaps and keeping my students occupied.
The truth is, that many of us have thought this way at some point, and for no reason other than we are stuck to the archaic belief that "true learning" has to look a certain way. But just as we have embraced messy, authentic learning and exploration through inquiry, dramatic play, outdoor exploration and STEM, it's time we give coloring the credit it deserves.
I'm hoping that by the end of this blog post you will feel a renewed sense of confidence in giving your little ones coloring sheets to support their physical and emotional development.
Coloring Supports Mindfulness
It's not often that our children's source of pure, unadulterated joy coincides with calm. Coloring is a staple in our child's emotional regulation toolbox that can help bring clarity and grounding to a busy mind. In the interview conducted by the Cleveland Clinic, clinical psychologist Scott M. Bea says, “Coloring takes your attention away from yourself and onto the present-moment event. In this way, it is very much like a meditative exercise.”
Leaving a coloring page out at breakfast time, during morning entry, after recesses or any other time that behavior can become dysregulated from transitional periods. You might find that students enter quicker & are more likely to forget trivial problems that occurred on the playground which will have a transformative impact on the environment for morale and noise level. We also love modeling that coloring is a powerful coping skill, and always have sets available in our calm down corner.
Coloring Boosts Self-Esteem
Drawing something from scratch can be incredibly intimidating and daunting for primary students (and beyond). Coloring sheets offer structure and guidance that can really help equalize and level the confidence playing field in artistic expression.
Offering a variety of coloring pages that cater to your class' wide breadth of interests. If you choose to praise a child's work, consider praising the process (e.g., the vibrancy of the colors, the attention to detail, etc.) over the product itself.
Early Childhood Skills Development
Coloring is a go-to tool in occupational therapy to help support fine motor skills development through resistive training. It supports spatial skills, small muscle development and hand-eye coordination, just to name a few. Even the act of precision coloring trains the finger muscles to take over versus the entire arm and wrist (which will set them up for success in many other tasks and hobbies down the road).
Differentiate for different motor skills by offering a variety of different pages that target larger and those that offer more focused areas of coloring. It's important that we also consider leaving out different types of art materials too, to support diverse fine motor skills abilities.
Supports Attention and Focus
Coloring challenges young, developing minds to build stamina so that they gain the gratification of seeing their image transformed. Coloring helps our kids become more self-assured and therefore less worn out after picking up a crayon or pencil, making it the perfect springboard into other tasks, such as writing.
Using a visual timer during calm coloring periods, so that your little ones develop self-regulation and attention and focus strategies in order gauge how much time they have for each unique part of their masterpiece. Encourage your students to label their pictures, to blend coloring and writing more seamlessly, which might lessen the stigma that, "writing is hard", down the line.
Here are our top coloring page books to support social-emotional learning. Click on the images to take a closer look!
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When do you use coloring in your programs?
Do you go to coloring to relax as an adult?
Let me know in the comments below!
Choose SEL & Be Well,