[blindkid] What are your thoughts on coloring?

Carol Castellano carol.joyce.castellano at gmail.com
Fri Sep 30 18:56:20 UTC 2011

I have a feeling there could be some middle ground on this issue.

Some coloring may be a useful experience for some blind children.  I 
don't think coloring itself is the real issue--the real issue is the 
idea of wasting a child's time when he/she could be doing more useful 
things.  I think the fact is that in any classroom on any given day, 
part of the time of some child--not just a blind child--might be 
being wasted.  Is it okay to waste some of a child's time?  How much 
would be acceptable? Parents of many kinds of children--not just 
blind children--grapple with this issue.  Teachers do, too.  If 
parents/the team determines that the coloring is taking up too large 
an amount of time and is really wasting all of that time, then it 
should be stopped.  But if it's determined that the coloring serves 
some purpose and isn't taking up an inordinate amount of time, then 
it could be continued.  The answer would vary, depending on the child 
and the circumstances.

If we take the idea of not wasting a child's time to its logical 
extreme, we find some difficulties.  In a classroom setting, we can't 
realistically eliminate any and all activities that might be wasting 
the time of any individual child.  Since classrooms contain a mix of 
children with a mix of abilities and interests, there will be times 
when the subject or activity is not completely appropriate for a 
particular child's abilities and needs.  My own feeling is that this 
can help a child to learn self discipline and self control :-), 
attributes that can help them in their later academic work and 
career.  It's a matter of degree.


At 11:28 AM 9/30/2011, you wrote:
>I am a TVI and blind myself. It is my experience that most TVI's 
>aren't really very well trained in the area of early childhood. 
>Thus, they find it difficult to come up with activities that really 
>do develop fine motor skills for blind children. Further, many of 
>them don't actually know the alternative, nonvisual methods that 
>blind children will actually use to perform fine motor tasks, such 
>as buttoning, snapping, zipping, tying, identifying coins, pouring, 
>measuring etc. so they don't know the precursors to those skills. 
>Also, as many of them are itinerant and must travel between schools, 
>it is quite a challenge to organise and carry all kinds of hands-on 
>activities/equipment for young blind children, replacing it often. 
>So, it's not easy to do it well under the usual circumstances of the 
>included/mainstreamed, young blind child needing fine motor skill 
>development. It is much easier at the end of a tiring day when the 
>children are doing art to simply justify the blind child's coloring 
>with nonsense about fine motor skills and inclusion.
>In my opinion, this nonsense about coloring is simply a result of 
>teachers not knowing appropriate alternative activities. Holding a 
>pencil is a very specific fine motor skill that benefits writing for 
>sighted writers. I have seen no evidence that it develops the kind 
>of finger eexterity and sensitivity, or strength for that matter, 
>that TVIs claim it does for blind children. It makes my blood 
>absolutely boil when I hear of children's time being wasted on such 
>rubbish. This is a skill that they will never use for anything. Yes, 
>I've heard the old "strengthening for the slate for the slate and 
>stylus and the braille writer", but I'm a blind adult and I never 
>had my time wasted with coloring and I use my stylus and slate just 
>fine. Also, the braille writer has three keys for each hand to push. 
>If this rediculous coloring is supposed to be so important for 
>developing hand strength, shouldn't the children be using a crayon 
>or pencil in both hands? How does it mystically develop strength in 
>the hand not used to hold the marker? This is clearly nonsense. 
>Furthermore, Creative expression is supposed to be part of art and, 
>unless children are specifically Coloring as part of an activity 
>such as a math worksheet - "color the six dogs blue" - all the 
>sighted children are expressing themselves creatively. I cannot 
>agree with denying blind children this creative expression. When do 
>they get to decide how their art will look?
>As for using coloring to justify inclusion this is perhaps the 
>silliest reason of all. The blind child clearly cannot color and all 
>his classmates see his incompetence. worse, they see that, unlike 
>all of them who improve during the year, even with the help of an 
>aide or teacher the blind child continues to be a pitifully bad 
>colorer. How can this be seen as a positive factor in the inclusion 
>of a blind child. Does anyone imagine for a moment that the blind 
>child doesn't know that he can't color and that his coloring is 
>worse than the other children? Why is it that TVIs will force 
>children to color, telling them that they must learn to do what they 
>don't like, but will not push them in areas of independence, such as 
>being organised or travelling quickly down the hallway, even if they 
>don't like doing so? these inconsistencies expose this coloring 
>issue for the travesty is really is.
>there are so many things that young blind children should be 
>learning. Threading, cutting, modelling, ripping, screwing - bolts & 
>nuts, jar lids/containers - paper folding and twisting, a million 
>and one manipulative/construction toys designed to strengthen small 
>muscles. This coloring is just an excuse for lack of teacher 
>versatility and imaginativeness.
>I have actually attended IEP meetings where we have challenged the 
>TVI's claims for coloring for blind children. When closely 
>questioned about their claims for its value, especially in reference 
>to preparation for brailling when only one hand is actually being 
>used, and with reference to future use of this skill beyond signing 
>one's name in 10 years or so, they concede that it isn't really that 
>useful. We then get it specifically written into the IEP that this 
>child will "NOT be made to color with any medium for any reason. The 
>child may use a crayon to mark with a check mark when correcting 
>their work". Guess what, we have had to fight over it during the 
>year, showing them the IEP to get them to stop making the blind 
>child use scented markers in coloring; to stop them pretending to 
>themselves that they are somehow providing a meaningful art 
>experience to a child who has no idea what they're doing besides 
>moving their hand randomly on the paper until the aide says "yes, 
>that's good." The fact that the TVI agrees in an IEP meeting that 
>it's meaningless as an art experience and inferior as a fine motor 
>development activity, and agrees to have it prohibited in the IEP 
>itself, and then proceeds to try to make a blind child color in 
>class when they think they can do so without anyone knowing, speaks 
>to me of the true nature of this activity.
>Can anyone tell that I am passionate about the topic of blind 
>children's time being wasted by teachers making them color? If I 
>were a parent of a blind child being made to color, I would 
>immediately call an IEP meeting and have it written into the IEP 
>that my child would not be made to color in any medium under any 
>circumstances. Naturally they will argue but if you add up the time 
>in any given week that your child is wasting his young life 
>coloring, you will be convinced it's worth the trouble.
>Heather Field
>-----Original Message----- From: Meng, Debi
>Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 2:40 PM
>To: Katie Cochrane ; NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of 
>blind children)
>Subject: Re: [blindkid] What are your thoughts on coloring?
>I did see the benefit at 3 and 4 but he should be beyond 
>that.   Thanks for the advice.  I guess I need to find out what the 
>goals are and if we can achieve them in another way.
>-----Original Message-----
>From: blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org 
>[mailto:blindkid-bounces at nfbnet.org] On Behalf Of Katie Cochrane
>Sent: Thursday, September 29, 2011 2:05 PM
>To: NFBnet Blind Kid Mailing List,(for parents of blind children)
>Subject: Re: [blindkid] What are your thoughts on coloring?
>My son is 3, and they spend a lot of time on coloring, too.  He is 
>totally blind.  Our TVI explained to me it is important to build 
>finger strength and dexterity for learning Braille, using a stylus 
>to make Braille notes later, etc.  They also want him to get used to 
>participating in tasks just like the rest of the kids in the 
>class.  They do a lot of coloring of raised line papers, and they 
>put textures under it.  We also have one of those musical coloring 
>tablets (I think it's from Crayola) where it plays music as you 
>scribble...the faster you scribble the faster the music plays.  No 
>matter what we do, it is not his favorite task, either, but I think 
>the reasons they gave were reasonable.  Have you asked your TVI what 
>the reasons are for focusing on coloring at this point in his 
>education?  I know my son is younger, but I would imagine all of 
>these reasons will still be relevant when he is in kindergarten.
>Take care.
>blindkid mailing list
>blindkid at nfbnet.org
>To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info 
>for blindkid:
>blindkid mailing list
>blindkid at nfbnet.org
>To unsubscribe, change your list options or get your account info 
>for blindkid:

More information about the blindkid mailing list