Coloring With Your Older Children
We often associate coloring and crayons with little children. However, coloring with older children, including teens, can not only build family bonds but also be an academic pursuit.
Coloring with children is one of the most universal parental experiences. If you are a parent, keeping a big bin of crayons or colored pencils is a must, along with copious supplies of drawing paper on hand at all times. There’s something wonderful about coloring that evokes a child’s inherent creative instincts. Psychological studies have shown that working with colors is linked to brain development in young children; coloring in particular is an act of emotional expressiveness, as children’s choices of what to put on paper are linked with their emotional state at the time. Whether coloring in a coloring book or creating a composition from scratch, coloring is a wholesome activity that is good for children’s brain development and emotional well-being.
These benefits are multiplied when parents and children color together. Coloring is one of the simplest and most emotionally nourishing activities a parent can do with their child.
In the past, coloring was associated with small children. In recent years, however, more coloring materials have been published geared towards older kids and even adults. Johanna Basford is the most notable artists in this genre; her work has become the gold standard for sophisticated, mature coloring books. For older children or adults, coloring is a profoundly relaxing activity that relieves stress. If you do it together, it can be a special bonding time.
A few years ago, I started coloring with my older daughter in the evening. Besides being a great bonding activity and an opportunity for me to reconnect with her, it provided an excellent occasion for her to decompress after a challenging day of homeschool studies. We colored in some teen-adult oriented coloring books, but I also found some amazing coloring resources for free online. Being a history fanatic, I searched for “medieval coloring pages” and found a ton of beautiful, intricate pictures perfect for coloring with teenagers. Here’s some of our work:
I found these times coloring with my teenaged daughter to be truly special. They are memories she’ll take with her into adulthood. In a homeschool environment, its easy to prioritize time with the younger kids. They need more guidance, more attention, more “hands on” time devoted to working with a parent. If you’re not careful, your older kids can start to feel left out—like they are on the backburner while the bulk of mom’s attention is going to the younger sibs. Coloring with my older daughter was a great way to remedy this. I would put a video on for the little kids, then print off one of these medieval coloring pages and my daughter and I would sit down at the table together and start coloring. Sometimes we sat quietly; sometimes we talked about the day. Sometimes we got super focused on the art, especially when the drawing was quite intricate. But whether we were working intently or chatting leisurely while we colored, the point is it was our special time to do something creative together.
It became a special bonding time with my daughter. If we went too long without coloring, she would ask, “Dad, can we color again soon?” It’s been four years and we are still coloring! Here’s a picture we are working on right now—
If you’ve never colored with your older, teenage children, I want to recommend it to you as a really fun, easy, and meaningful way to bond with your kids and enjoy a “cooling down” period if things are getting hectic. And all Catholic homeschoolers need some cooling down now and then.