Most people think of drawing as a creative outlet. It’s an extra activity for the “creative types”. But that is not true. Drawing has very little to do with creativity. It is about seeing, thinking and sharing oneself. Drawing is a way to explore our thoughts, build our brain and understand the world more effectively.
“Drawing is not primarily a creative means of expression,” says Eileen Adams, from the Campaign for Drawing. “It is an intellectual activity – a way of understanding the world. Just as pre-verbal infants babble, so young children make marks and squiggles in an effort to order and refine their thoughts. Ideas that are either unformed or only partly formed at the beginning gradually take shape and develop through the process of drawing.”
Young children make marks on paper as a way to make sense of the world, to make their ideas real and to share what they’re thinking. And for children that draw regularly there are very significant benefits. When children draw they:
Improve fine motor skills
Use problem solving strategies
Bring ideas to life
Strengthen attention to detail
Build memory retention
So what now? Drawing is great but what can we do as parents to develop these skills and make time amongst all the other things we do in a week. Here are the 6 things you will need to get started.
Intention – Make a time turn off the computers, videos and iPads. Have drawing supplies at hand and create! Put on some music. Make a special treat or area in the house. It takes work to unplug these days, but getting the family into a habit of quiet reflection and creativity will pay off big time.
Pencils – This seems obvious but it’s not. So often we hand kids a basket of stubby banged up old crayons to draw with. This does not inspire. Give kids good pencils, with good erasers. So much of our kids success in art stems from the basics… a no. 2 pencil freshly sharpened with a quality eraser will allow them to get the details right from the start!
Paper – Kids don’t need a fancy sketchpad and there’s a lot more freedom for parent and child if it’s not. Some of the best drawing paper for kids is the paper used in copy machines. It’s great to draw on and easy to erase! It has a great surface for markers, crayons or colored pencils – and it’s inexpensive. One ream (500 sheets) – is only $5 – $9.
Colors – Drawing is fun, but the real pleasure comes when it’s time to color! Keep your kids fired up by providing more than the basic 12 pack. Crayola makes the best markers and crayons for kids and everything is washable, so splurge and provide lots of options; thick or thin, tropical, bold, assorted and who doesn’t love a new box crayons – 64 colors!
Inspiration – The options for drawing are endless which can often lead to a creative paralysis. But, change it up! Provide new things to draw with and new things to draw on. Try how to draw books or how to draw videos. If your child is a Young Rembrandts student, redraw it at home.
Instruction – While free drawing is always a must, mastery comes with instruction and practice. Becoming proficient at playing an instrument, reading, writing and doing math – requires practice, planning and strategic thinking. The same goes with drawing. Enroll your child in a drawing class, I know of some pretty good ones!
While there are benefits for children that draw, it’s also an activity that can bring them a deep sense of satisfaction and joy. Drawing can be a peaceful island in a very busy world, a quiet place to reflect, explore and discover, a safe place to find and share oneself. Drawing can open the mind and bring our deepest thoughts and dreams to life. Get your kids started by enrolling in a weekly drawing class, most of them can be found right at your school!