The Crayola Rebellion | Teeny Manolo

The Crayola Rebellion

By Glinda


The Munchkin is an almost-six-year old who definitely has a mind of his own.

And that mind has no problem letting people, including his teacher, know that he doesn’t like coloring.

He can draw until the pencil or crayon is down to a nub, or until the marker practically runs out of ink.  But coloring? Inside the lines? Madness! It is beneath him! To him, it is gruntwork, pure and simple. 

Unfortunately for him, it seems that kindergarten teachers can be sticklers when it comes to coloring pictures.  Especially when coloring the picture is part of the assignment, not just for prettification.  You know, like coloring in all the triangles red, and all the squares blue.

So, coloring outside the lines is verboten.  Ditto with leaving some white in there.  They prefer that the item in question be properly and completely shaded.  Which, I guess if you are going to do it, you might as well do it right.

But didn’t I hear a while back that children were supposed to be encouraged to color outside the lines?  That insisting they color inside the lines stifled their individuality and creativity?  Say no to conformity, kids, anything goes!

Er, except that particular philosophy is not embraced at the Munchkin’s current school.

I understand that coloring is a fine motor skill.  And perhaps it comes down to committing to doing a task and doing it properly, even if you don’t find it a pleasant pastime.  Still, there is a part of me that is secretly annoyed at the notes about his lack of coloring finesse that are penned on his worksheets.

The amazing and confusing thing is that I have to sit here and beat it into him that he is to color inside the lines, when adults who have the ability to “think outside the lines” are lauded.

Maybe I should have homeschooled. 

15 Responses to “The Crayola Rebellion”

  1. mrsdarwin Says:

    (I hope I’m not submitting this twice — the com box is cranky…)

    There are other and better ways to learn fine motor skills. When he applies to college, no one’s going to care about his coloring abilities at age 6!

    Try homeschooling. You’d be good at it, and instead of squares and circles the Munchkin could spend his time coloring figures from Greek myths and dinosaurs. Educational and fun!

  2. class-factotum Says:

    Shouldn’t a kindergarten teacher be more concerned with a child knowing his colors and shapes as opposed to whether he colors inside the lines? Yeah, yeah, yeah, following directions and all that, but unlike algebra, which you really do use in real life, coloring is not a skill demanded by the workplace.

  3. Brian's Babymomma Says:

    I’ve got a neighbor who transferred her kindergartner out of school after two weeks. And she did it for this very reason! The teacher made her daughter cry by criticizing her for coloring outside the lines. Oy, who knew it was an epidemic?

  4. Twistie Says:

    You know, I almost flunked kindergarten over that dratted exercise. True story. Well, that and the fact that my little extremely left-handed self couldn’t use the crappy right-handed scissors that half the right-handed kids struggled with, too.

    But when faced with the dreaded ‘color the big triangle blue and the small square yellow’ worksheet, I kept flat out refusing to do it. It was clear from myriad other exercises that I knew my shapes, sizes, and colors perfectly well. I just had a serious hate-on for that particular method of determining whether I knew them or not.

    When the teacher finally told my mother that I was on the verge of being held back at the start of my education, Mom called a meeting with the teacher and the principal. The principal took those crappy scissors in his left hand and tried to cut with them. Then he immediately ordered several pairs of left-handed scissors for every classroom. Then he took one look at that worksheet, said ‘Twistie’s right.’ and forbade the teacher to use it again.

    Mom encouraged us to think for ourselves and color outside the lines to our hearts’ content. I’m glad the principal of my first school was of her ilk…or I might still be repeating kindergarten.

  5. marvel Says:

    Reminds of the song “Flowers are Red”:

    There is something to be said for learning the formalized structure of a thing before playing around with working outside the boundaries–like learning how to write a limerick and a sonnet before moving on to free verse, or learning proper grammar before moving on to free association, and learning how to deal with the gruntwork, which is sadly a part of life. Perhaps it could be made more entertaining by coloring one with a circular pattern, and one with a back and forth pattern, and one with an up and down pattern, and one with a diagonal pattern, and one with a light scribble, and one where you press down really hard to make it dark, and to get really fancy, one where you follow the shape repeatedly to fill it all in. Or coloring the whole thing in lightly and then drawing dinosaurs (in the same color) over it more darkly. Even in the midst of drudgery there are ways of exercising creativity and expressing individuality!

  6. Sidian Says:

    I think I’d ask for a conference with the teacher to see exactly why she cared if a six year old was coloring inside the lines or not. If it’s for fine motor skills, maybe there’s another exercise he can do.

    Cause nothing would have made me balk faster at learning something than being told that I HAD to do it when it seemed pointless.

  7. dgm Says:

    I say give him a hole-punch (one with fun shapes) to practice his fine motor skills on and be done with it.

    Why do I get the feeling there is a storm brewing on the oz educational horizon? 🙂

  8. raincoaster Says:

    Learning how to take orders is a key life skill: far more important than colouring inside the lines. When he’s old enough, he can decide for himself whether or not to follow the teacher’s instructions, but that’s definitely not until he’s old enough to realize what getting held back a grade means.

    I almost got turfed over this very thing. I liked putting edges and fringes and faces on my triangles, etc, but it wasn’t “inside the lines.” My teachers explained very patiently that it was not arbitrary, but was testing our ability to understand and follow instructions, which was sort of the whole point of school at the time (if you are hoping school will develop your child into a fully-rounded human being, I have to ask what you think YOUR job is). We actually negotiated a truce. I put a blue X inside the squares and a red dot inside the triangles, etc.

    It’s just too bad your son’s school isn’t open to some dialogue on the subject. But it’s not a bad time to teach him Machiavellian skills he’ll use all his life, like “obey until you are strong enough to defeat them.”

  9. Mrs. Hall Says:

    Perhaps a compromise?

    For every one coloring paper he does to the teacher’s requirements, he gets to do 10 crazy ones.

    every body happy?

    compromising is an important life skill!


    Mrs. Hall

  10. Becky Says:

    We *do* home school, so I’m not going to be too much help here…

    Maybe they are testing the kids’ ability to follow directions, though surely there are other tests, even a game of Simon Says. And it would be nice if they could cut six-year-olds some slack, especially at the beginning of the year; say, following all the directions in Simon Says but not coloring in the lines.

    Then again, maybe they’re getting them to practice for filling in the circles for those infernal tests that will start coming up in a few years. Oops, there’s the pesky ornery home schooler in me. You can see what happens to kindergarteners who grow up not liking to follow rules.

    Good luck to Munchkin!

  11. Never teh Bride Says:

    I went to a fancy private kindergarten…well, I thought it was fancy because it had a pool. My teacher — who was later fired for being too mean — could not stand it when we colored outside the lines even a tiny bit. EVEN when we were coloring something that we were going to cut out! I tried explaining to her once that since we were cutting the banana out, it didn’t exactly matter if one colored outside the lines, and I got in troooouuuble.

  12. Eilish Says:

    I like marvel’s suggestions! As a mom who is planning on homeschooling, I am trying to learn that balance between learning to follow directions and creativity. I have a little boy with a mind of his own, so I have a feeling this conflict might come up once or a hundred times.

    One of the reasons that my husband and I decided to homeschool was watching friends’ children and particularly my oldest nephew enter formal schooling. When my nephew came home from kindergarten and started telling my SIL that he really didn’t think he was very smart because he didn’t do things the same way as the other kids we knew that conventional schooling was not something that we wanted for our own children. It’s a very complex decision.

  13. Brian's Babymomma Says:

    I must say that the Mister and I have decided on public school, mostly because we want to mess with the teachers. And then we will supplement whatever we feel is lacking in that education at home. Lots of movies, books, and trips with a purpose but no hard and fast rules. The goal being to balance the drudgery of following orders handed down by an imbecile with the freedom to enjoy what you are learning about.
    Currently, the eldest is enjoying mixology. He makes a mean gin and tonic for a three year old 😉 After he’s finished making mommy a drink, he mixes a grenadine ricky for himself. Fine motor skills, check. Bright colors, check. Basic understanding of measures, check. Employable skill after the age of 21, check. Parenting rocks!

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