Elementary School That Banned Coloring Is Hurting Kids More Than Helping Them

Say What!? 43

crayonsWhen I was a kid -- way back in the stone ages when we walked 20 miles uphill to get to school -- you did a whole lot of coloring in school. In fact, come to think of it, that may have been all we did for one straight year. Picked our noses, took naps, and colored. You too? Yup, seems like we all did, but in news that will make you feel like grabbing a can of Metamucil, it seems those days are over for kids.

First cursive got kicked out, now it's the crayons? Yes, indeedy do, schools are dropping coloring from the curriculum!

At least, one school is. The Southside Primary School in Cleveland, Texas, announced it would be yanking the crayons and the coloring sheets in response to low performing test scores at the third- and fourth-grade level. The district announced it needs to focus more on "academics" for younger kids to prep them for the all-important tests in the higher grades.

Ah yes, the old "academics" line. 

Because what parent is going to argue with an increased focus on academics?

Well, this one.

Don't get me wrong! I'm a whole-hearted supporter of academics. Why else would I send my kid to school? Anything that can be done to improve the focus on academics should be considered by school districts, and successes at one school should be studied by others for possible adoption.

But the last time I checked, coloring is a piece of the academic puzzle, and it's one we can't afford to lose. This is NOT a trend that should spread.

See, coloring isn't just coloring. That's the way we sell little kids -- as fun time to be artsy -- but in truth coloring is really about training youngsters' little muscles and their brains. It's helping them develop their fine motor skills. It's a lesson in discipline and concentration and a means to introduce logic, not to mention a way to cement a child's grasp on color recognition.

As much as we love to poke fun at the old ways of doing things way back when we were kids, we need to remember that not everything old is outdated. Some methods that had merit then still apply today -- among them getting youngsters started with some crayons and a blank sheet of paper.

Those tests will be long forgotten by the time those kids grow up, but the abilities they gain from coloring the outline of a pumpkin or Abraham Lincoln's hat will stay with them forever.

Has your kids' school district proposed a ban on coloring? What would you do?


Image via Hobbies on a Budget/Flickr

back to school, elementary school, education


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Sarah Todrick

Oooh I would be mad! I'm a teacher and a parent, so I see this from both sides. There's so much focus on standardized testing that adminstrations seem to forget that kids are not standardized! For example, as a teacher, I can gauge whether a student knew a timeline of events in the Revolutionary War just as well from them creating a comic book about it as I can from reading their answers on a Scantron test-- for some kids, it's a better reflection of their learning!  If they're just having "color in the picture" time-killing assignments, I get it, but there are so many ways to meaningfully incorporate the arts into learning that it's criminal to throw the baby out with the bathwater.

Sarah Todrick

Also, it annoys the crap out of me that my middle schoolers can't read cursive, much less write it. I tutor some of them specifically in handwriting in addition to their "academic" subjects. Edcuation isn't about turning out regurgitate-information-and-fill-in-the-bubble robots, it's about providing students with a well-rounded toolbox with which to take on the world! 

nonmember avatar Kass

The focus on standardized testing in public schools is one of the many reasons my kids go to private school. Crayons, balls, and cursive handwriting are still used at their school. Even with all those "distractions" their school has an 100% college acceptance rate.

the4m... the4mutts

Okay, if this were kids in kindergarten or first grade, I could see the irritation. But 4th and 5th graders DONT NEED to be coloring. They need to be learning. They can color at home.

nonmember avatar MoJo

While there are some good things within the Common Core Curriculum, there are too many things wrong with it (this blog topic is a case in point, and not even the worst of what's happening). The scariest part of it all is that CCCS is being rolled out to most states, right under parents' noses...it's amazing how many parents do not know what CCCS is, how it works, and the ramifications of it. Since CCCS was basically shoved down the states' throats so to speak, it's understandable how parents were blindsided with it. However, as more parents are finding out more, the call to change or even remove CCCS from our schools has gotten stronger. Please do your research; find out how your district is handling CCCS; opt out of testing if you feel it is necessary....but make yourselves aware of how dramatically our school system is changing, and not necessarily for the better.

ktobin2 ktobin2

A ban on coloring? Jesus Christ...Maybe it's not the coloring, (because God knows coloring equals low test scores...) maybe it's the teachers...Nowadays anyone can become a teacher and now idiots are teaching our children.

Sarah Todrick

Wow ktobin... I guess the 4 year degree, hundreds of hours of student teaching and being mentored under masters of the field, multiple certification tests, and intensive professional development I put myself  through every year makes me an idiot, or maybe I wasted my time with all that if schools are just hiring anyone off the street. I understand you're being hyperbolic, and I'll be the first to admit that there are bad and/or under-prepared educators out there and standards for hiring might vary from state to state, but it's quite insulting to paint all teachers with that brush. I have no idea what goes into the requirements for whatever job you might have, so I don't make comments about it. Unless you've worked as a teacher in a public school yourself and have been through the certification process, please don't presume to know what it takes to be one, or call names.

2ofth... 2ofthesame

Oh... They banned coloring... It's not like, I don't know... Something that the parents could take time out of their busy lives NOT parenting to make up for at home, right? Lets talk about taking important subjects like SCIENCE and treating it like PE or Art. The subject that teaches our children to to reach for the stars, understand the past and dream. SCIENCE founded this country, not art. SCIENCE is behind everything that makes our country great and it's what? Nothing. No wonder this country is failing. Less then a hundred years ago we lead the world with out technical achievements because of one thing and one thing only... Science. Please don't come crying about stupid crap like art when our children's true losses happend years ago when science was tossed out and there wasn't so much a wimper. You allowed this, it's you're own damn fault when you allowed the schools to treat such an important subject like they did. What did you expect to happen? 

skrawli skrawli

We should take coloring, praying and fun out of school. . .oh wait. . . 


Linda Hinderks

Since when is coloring considered not learning?  Coloring can be incorporated into many subjects, you just need to know how to do it, which most teachers know how.  Most do a very good job at it.  If your not going to take the time to teach your child somethings at home, then at least be supportive of the teachers that do give a damn and expose each and every child to a little bit of everything.   To the statement  that kids can color at home, well that is not always true.  I know its hard to believe, but there are kids who don't have the opportunity to do simple stuff like that at home. Some parents have no interest in providing their children with such things.  Some people have no knowledge of what a child needs to succeed at learning, these are the same people who should of never become parents in the first place.  Then there are those that think that they don't have to teach their child anything because that's why they send the kid to school.  These kids come from all walks of life, poor and rich, black, white, etc.   When society gets their act together and realizes that it takes a village to raise the child, not just a single person, the education of our young will change for some positive ways for all to be successful.

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