In our rush to prepare kids to achieve academically it’s easy to overlook the benefits of creativity. But ask any early childhood or primary school teacher and they will tell you how crucial this skill is.
Drawing helps children develop fine motor skills, encourage visual analysis, improve hand-eye coordination and even teaches creative problem solving.
Perhaps even more importantly for parents, drawing is a calm and quiet activity that’s also very transportable. So what can we do as parents to encourage our children to draw? We talked to a drawing pro to get some ideas.
Laura Shallcrass is a visual artist and author. Her first book, Hare & Ruru is up for a number of awards in this year’s New Zealand Book Awards for Children and Young Adults. “I just love the idea of making something more than the sum of its parts. Taking pens, paper or old cardboard boxes and creating an artwork object was the epitome of happiness for me as a child. Even now I get inspired by having new materials to play with. A new (or hand me down) set of pens, fresh paper or a treasure hunt to gather materials is all part of the fun. Make it an adventure to gather up bits of old recycling, leaves, rocks and drawing or painting materials to create something new out of something old.”
Laura says drawing helps children use their imagination and is also a great way for them to celebrate their uniqueness, so parents should take pride in their kids’creations. You can tell your child, ‘No one else will ever draw that dog in the same way you just did, isn’t that amazing? Your perspective is special!’.
Ways to integrate drawing into everyday life
- Set up a drawing table so paper and pens are always available.
2. Get your kids to make cards for birthdays and family celebrations.
3. Pop on an audio book or music and use drawing as a calm end-of-day activity.
4. Start a visual diary. Even very young children can draw a picture of their day and a parent can write a sentence to accompany it.
How music can help our tamariki
New Zealand children’s entertainer Suzy Cato explains why involving our tamariki in music can help with stress, sports and even structure.
Listening to music is important for everyone but especially for children. Music is beneficial for general wellbeing – it can help lower stress levels, lift mood, encourage movement and sociability, and well as increase a child’s vocabulary (so always ensure the language is age appropriate!). It’s beneficial for improving memory and communication skills, which can be beneficial to develop emotional intelligence.
Creating music is even more important than listening to music. Making music “turns up the volume” on all the benefits of listening. Learning basic rhythm patterns helps develop an understanding of time. Following and repeating patterns helps develop coordination, math skills and even sports skills. When they’re older, learning an instrument also provides structure, routine and resilience – all enviable traits to have at any age.
Kiwi Kids Music and their facebook page are the perfect places to find what’s happening in our children’s music industry. With a membership of nearly 150 singers/songwriters, there’s nearly always a performance near you or a new single or album release to enjoy.
More on fostering their creativity from tots to teens: