Why All Elementary Schools Should Keep Coloring in the Curriculum


Coloring pages have seen a massive boom in popularity in recent years, resulting in a wide variety of coloring books for both kids designed with self-care in mind. No doubt you’ve heard the hype, but can you believe it? Is coloring as suitable for students’ mindfulness and mental health as people say? Sometimes it seems like a new study comes out every other week with tips and tricks on how to help children; how do you know which ones are worth shifting your schedule for? Let’s break down the benefits of coloring in the classroom. Here is everything you need to know about why coloring books should become part of the curriculum.

Coloring Improves Motor Skills and Vision

Besides being just plain fun, learning how to color inside the lines, choose colors for different areas of the picture, and add to the image is excellent for a child’s brain. Though it seems simple on the surface, this kind of activity requires both of your brain’s hemispheres to communicate with each other, improve logic skills, and allow the mind to practice being creative. Students also get a chance to practice their hand-eye coordination in a fun way; the motions, actions, and grip needed to color helps in the development of the muscles in kids fingers, wrist, and hands, which in turn will help kids write more skillfully, type quickly, and use small tools much more easily than they would without such practice.

Coloring Improves Focus

Sometimes, focusing on a task can be stressful. This is often what makes standardized tests so scary for kids, along with other time-consuming projects. Coloring requires focus, but not enough that it is stressful for kids to do. It engages your frontal lobe, the part of your brain in charge of organizing and problem solving, and allows the mind to put everything else aside and live in the current moment. Going back to our standardized test example, kids often have a lot to worry about, even at a young age. They’ll be able to put aside anxiety about future tests and soccer games and give their brain a chance to relax. Coloring is also great because it doesn’t require much in the way of skill to enjoy. Art class can be stressful when the kid next to you is already a master crafter; anyone can turn a blank coloring page into a vibrant masterpiece.

Coloring Reduces Stress and Anxiety

Coloring has the incredible ability to relax fear in the amygdala or the fear center of the brain. It does this by putting the brain into a similar state to meditating, which can be a challenge for fidgety kids with too much energy. Coloring reduces the thoughts of a restless mind, creating mindfulness and quietness. This lets the brain rest after a long day at school and prepares students for another full day of learning in the morning. Coloring also gives the brain a chance to reset and process information before switching directions from math to English or the other way around. Starting this self-care habit, young people can help students grow up and begin middle and high school, where stressors shoot through the roof and mental illnesses become more apparent.

Coloring Improves Self Esteem and Confidence

Completing tasks makes you feel good about yourself. We’ve all seen this in our own lives as well as those of our students. Drawings are brought to be put on the fridge by proud artists with broad smiles on their faces, and science fair trophies are displayed on the top shelves of bookshelves with care. It feels great to achieve something, and finishing a coloring page, while much smaller a task than building a paper rocket, still gives your brain that same happy feeling. Coloring teaches kids to be proud of their achievements and to celebrate the little accomplishments in their lives. These are excellent skills to have in adulthood as well as in their elementary school years.

Coloring is Therapeutic

Besides being relaxing, coloring is great for kids’ mental health because it is an outlet for unpleasant or frustrating emotions. Even kids who don’t have emotional challenges can benefit from processing their feelings through art and allows kids with stress and anger in their lives to let those forceful feelings out without aggression. Kids often act violently out of pent-up anger or anxiety. Giving them the tools to let their anger out safely protects them and other kids from feelings that aren’t processed correctly. As they get older, these skills can develop feelings and emotions in art and lead to greater art appreciation.

Coloring Can Be a Group Activity

If the coloring page is big enough, you can enlist a team of students to complete it instead of a single artist. Having students work together on an innovative product improves their problem-solving abilities and their conflict processing skills, as they may find themselves disagreeing on which color goes where and who gets to color what portion of the picture. These scenarios also allow students to practice compromising with others, working as a team, and sharing their ideas with others. Kids receive a lot of criticism (helpful and otherwise) at school through assignments and test grades, and parent-teacher conferences, making them reluctant to share their creative ideas with others because they don’t want to risk rejection. While coloring as a group, there will be some rejection and disagreement, but this allows students to get used to the idea of failing and trying again. As you have no doubt experienced in your own life, failure comes often and hits hard, so having the skills to cope with rejection and the ability to learn from experiences is crucial as they get older.

Common Misconceptions of Coloring in School

One common complaint about adding coloring to a student’s learning schedule is simply that it is a waste of time. Elementary kids already have less time than other grades to study since they have recesses and playtimes built into their days; why should they take more valuable time out to color? Coloring is simply a waste of everyone’s time. In reality, students that struggle to focus might miss out on more learning time without coloring than if they were allowed a short break to let their brains recover and take a break from the constant flow of information coming at it from the teacher. When kids aren’t given a break like this, they may have more trouble paying attention in class and let their brain turn off, making that time useless. Even if designated coloring time doesn’t help students with their abilities to focus, there are still plenty of other benefits to warrant adding this kind of activity to the day.

Incorporating coloring time into your students’ time is an easy way to help them perform better at school no matter what level they are at. In addition to giving them time to let their brains relax, coloring is proven to increase focus, creativity, fine motor skills, and confidence, in addition to countless other vital skills. To them, coloring is simply a time for fun and creativity, but to you, as the teacher or school counselor, this is a great way to help them developmentally and prepare them for the years of schooling they have to look forward to.