• Dr Laura Hutchison

Coloring: Why it's Important for Kids


Years ago my cousin sent me this question about her 3 year old daughter ….

Seeing as Samantha has a new-found love of coloring with crayons, and drawing, and will literally do it for over an hour at a time — What educational and/or developmental value is seen in coloring at her age?

My first reaction was … well, just because it’s relaxing and fun!  But actually there is a lot young children can gain from spending time coloring.  Here’s a few to consider:


1.  Fine motor skills … through learning to hold the crayon properly and being able to master where the “color” goes.


2.  Frustration tolerance … coping with “messing” up or not having his/her picture they way they wanted it to be.


3.  Confidence and Self-Esteem … As with many skills, practicing and becoming good at it can really boost a child’s confidence and self-esteem. They can look back at their pictures and see their own improvement.


3.  Attention & Focus … this is a big one. If a child can calmly sit alone and color for an extended time (and their pictures are charged with violence and anger … because that’s a WHOLE other story) … it probably means they are well-adjusted. Think about it … if you are to worried, anxious, scared, agitated, angry … it’s really hard to just sit and color. To work on a page to color, it takes time and planning skills. A child needs to be able to focus and pay attention to the task at hand.  All of this being EXTREMELY essential for success in school.


4.  Exploration with art media & color … like a lot of play for young children, just exploring with the crayons is very important. We aren’t born knowing how to color or use crayons!  So, children can explore what happens if the press lightly … or hard, what happens when the crayon breaks … or becomes very dull, what happens when I color with the other hand or hold the crayon differently, what happens when I blend different colors together, what colors go well together, etc….


Coloring is such a wonderful, creative, low-expense way to play … that kids can do on their own, with friends and siblings, and with YOU … So, get out those crayons and markers and COLOR.


This article was originally posted on my blog, PlayDrMom in September 2011.

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