Stay Inside the Lines

Stay_Inside_The_LinesJust recently, I found myself telling my son to be careful while working on one of his school projects. “Stay inside the lines,” was one of my instructions. While he happily replied, “Yes, mommy!” and continued on his merry way, this launched an entire debate in my head.

Is it really that important for my children to color in the lines? After all, the purpose is for them to merely identify the colors and use the appropriate one when asked. Do I really need to plague them with more restrictions or should I allow them to be creative and color as they please? I think the answer is yes… to both!

There are some very valid arguments for having our children color inside the lines:

  • Hand/Eye Coordination
  • Developing Dexterity
  • Neatness
  • Patience
  • Adherence to Instruction

When our children are focused on coloring in the lines, they are developing some important skills. They are strengthening their coordination and hand muscles which will assist them with other accomplishments in the future. They are being trained in neatness and patience; not all of life can be chaotic and rushed through.

On the flip side, there is also a solid point for ignoring those pesky lines… creativity! Without all those frustrating lines in the way, we are able to express ourselves through the medium of art. We can tap into the imagination and be free to explore a world of color.

Perhaps both are important! During our learning day, part of my job is to give instruction and help our children develop those important life skills, such as coordination and dexterity. However, when at all possible, I should also encourage my children to be comfortable with the exploration of art.

Like most other things in life, there is a time and a place for everything; art is no exception. So our children can feel free to be as creative as they’d like, with the understanding that sometimes mommy is going to make them stay in those silly little lines.

What can I say? I like to torture my kids!

📢 Chime In!: What’s your take; inside, outside, or no lines at all?

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9 thoughts on “Stay Inside the Lines

  1. I must admit I agree with you on this one. There is an important place for both. The only thing I would add (which admittedly comes from the special needs side of things) is that it pays to also take into consideration physical capability, or lack thereof, and any other factors that may be at play when deciding for it to be time to stay in the lines or not.

    For instance, my oldest is capable of staying in the lines and does so almost to the point of perfectionism. He finds it so important that he can even end up in an overload of frustration and overwhelment when he slips up even to the slightest degree. Because of that, I tend to encourage him to loosen up a little by making it a requirement to not stay in the lines on some worksheets and then praise him and his work highly and with energy when he manages to let a few scribbles break loose from the boundaries (followed by sensory breaks, hugs, etc if needed).

    My youngest, with his severe EDS and joint issues, has a lot of trouble with fine motor and finger control. As a result, I tend to require him to try harder to stay in the lines when we work on coloring sheet together but I also give him instructions and tips on how to do so more easily and keep copies of recently done pages to help him see his improvement (he’s not quite able to stay completely in the lines yet).

    Both boys have a bit different standards based on their abilities and needs, but I also make sure both boys understand that the skills I have them practice are important and encourage their perseverance in them. I also make a point of having lots of unstructured art time to give them the freedom to color, draw, and create without any rules from me. David tends to use his free time to draw or color in painstakingly perfect pictures in his coloring books. Joshua will sometimes draw as well, but I’ve noticed he mainly likes having the freedom to just scribble around wildly and not have to worry about anything or to do something that involves no coloring whatsoever. I have found ensuring this free time of theirs happens often and truly stays “free”, is helping them develop a true love for art that even a few painstaking worksheets or home therapy times can’t steal from them. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  2. From the view point of a not-in-the-lines type person. I just don’t have time to spend staying in the lines. I’m moving too fast and need more room. Being restricted didn’t train me to be patient. It trained me to be impatient. Give me something worthwhile to do.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I agree. Balance of both. I think they need to learn to stay inside the lines for all of those reasons that benefit them… once that is mastered maybe it is time to start exploring their creativity.

    Liked by 1 person

  4. This is very much me. Reminds me of the time I told my son to color neatly and “stay in the lines” while allowing him to color the tree purple. Haha!!!!

    It’s all about balance. And I guess about values and priorities. If you value creativity more than being correct or proper, you may be the “stay out of the lines” type. However if you value things like patience, mastery, neatness etc, you may be the “stay in the lines” type. Whichever it is, just don’t take the fun out of it all because that’s all that matters.

    Liked by 1 person

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