Colouring - Developing Pencil Control or a Holding Activity?

Developing Pencil Control and Fine Motor Skills

Colouring - some kids love it, some kids hate it, some will colour because they have been told to.
Children start to colour at a very young age, quite often in places you don't want them to!


How Does Pencil Control Develop?

Children will start by grabbing a pen or crayon and make marks. Progression from this can include drawing lines or up-down marks. As they become more confident, circular motions will start to develop. From here onwards they will start to make representations of everyday objects / people and start colouring in pictures. All of these steps help the child develop their fine motor skills and pencil control.

What are Fine Motor Skills and Why Are They Important?

Fine motor skills involve the coordination and control of the small muscles in the hands and fingers. These skills are crucial for performing tasks that require precision and dexterity. When your child engages in activities such as holding a pencil, cutting with scissors, buttoning a shirt, or picking up small objects, they are using their fine motor skills.

Developing these skills is essential for your child's ability to perform various everyday activities with ease, and it lays the groundwork for tasks like writing, drawing, and self-care activities. As a parent, supporting and encouraging your child in activities that promote fine motor skills can contribute to their overall growth and independence.

A love/hate relationship.

At some point, children will either love colouring or will just do it for the sake of doing it. Colouring can take some children into their own world and they will take pride in it. They will line up their colours and try their best to stay in the lines. They will enjoy using different media, such a wax crayons, felt pens, gel pens, colouring pencils etc. Parents of these children will have lots of artwork brought home from nursery or school.

On the other hand, some kids will only colour when they are made to. Grudgingly they will quickly make a few marks to show they have coloured and then go off and do something more interesting. Most of the time the child will use just one colour to complete the work!


Primary School Colouring

Pre-school children need to develop pencil control skills and fine motor skills, colouring is one way of doing this. It can be the pre-cursor to developing writing and encourages creativity. But is this the same when they are at primary school and when they go into KS2?

Do teachers sometimes use colouring as a holding activity, to keep children occupied, maybe because they have finished their work too quickly? I often ask my children what they did at school today. The reply from my youngest would be, ' I did some colouring.' Rarely remembering what she coloured and why!

Could that time have been spent better doing something else? Or working on an extension activity? It's easy to say to a child 'now go and colour it in,' but maybe teachers need to consider what the child is going to gain from it. If it will enhance the work, develop or improve the presentation of the work, then it is worth doing. But if it is just to keep the child occupied, whilst the others finish their work or catch up, then more times needs to spent providing the child with extension activities.

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