Tuesday, May 12, 2009

Encouraging Your Budding Artist

If there's one thing that young children enjoy doing, it's coloring and crafting. Both of my children would enjoy doing one craft or another all day long if I let them. But coloring and crafting isn't just about fun--it's also a useful tool to develop fine motor skills.

The following article came in my monthly Beech-nut e-newsletter; really informative and a great reminder to let your budding artist practice, practice, practice.

The Art of Coloring

As your 31-month-old floats between the terrible-twos and the go-go-threes, coloring, drawing and writing will play an important role in his early development. His visual and fine motor skills that eventually lead to writing are growing and maturing, so anything that exercises those little hands and mind — like drawing, painting, coloring and writing — are terrific activities.

How It Develops

Most children can hold a thick pencil or crayon in a writing position by two and a half years old, say experts. While your toddler may not always draw something you can recognize, if you ask him you may learn that the red and green blob is really dad’s red truck parked by the big, green tree. First, he’ll draw or write in solid lines (along with scribbles), then move on to making circles. The further he develops, the more those lines and circles will begin to look like letters. By his third birthday, he may even write a few letters of his name. But if he doesn’t, don’t worry. Like everything else, your little one has his own timetable for learning how to write. Just keep it fun and interesting. Before you know it, your child will learn how to turn those scribbles into letters, just like the ones in his favorite book.

Learning to Write

There are several art activities that can encourage motor skills and creative development that can help pave the way for your child to learn to write. Some examples are:

  • Keep art supplies like construction paper, watercolors, finger paints, crayons, sidewalk chalk, markers and molding clay on hand for hours of drawing and writing fun. And don’t forget to keep a large waterproof tablecloth or tarp to protect the tables, chairs and/or floors from your enthusiastic little artist.

  • Let him string along large buttons or large beads onto an old shoe lace.

  • Create your own connect-the-dots pictures to help develop preliminary writing skills.

  • Show him how to use child-safe scissors and make window ornaments, like snowflakes, stars or smiley faces. Try to encourage your toddler to color, draw, write or create whatever he wants. You’ll be amazed at how much he’s soaking up the exciting world around him.

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