Adult coloring has become all the rage after a series of articles were published that highlighted the therapeutic benefits of coloring. Coloring seems to be especially helpful for people who suffer from anxiety. This is because it has been shown to activate different areas in the brain, control attention, and improve focus. It has been suggested that coloring helps people to replace negative (often recurring) thoughts with beautiful images. Coloring can even cause changes in heart rate and brain waves. As a result, many psychologists are now prescribing coloring to their patients.
So if coloring can do all this for adults, what can it do for students in the classroom? Ask any teacher, or curriculum developer who uses coloring textbooks like The The Anatomy Coloring Book or The Complete Hawaiian Reef Fish Coloring Book in their classroom and they will tell you that first off, coloring helps students relax and relieve stress. But relaxation is just one of the benefits. Coloring also decreases fidgeting and increases focus.
Imagine you are in a classroom of high school students stressed out about schoolwork, taking their SATs, dating, fitting in, or getting into college. The teacher is lecturing about the anatomy of a fish and the students’ minds are wandering thinking about the girls they like or what they are going to eat for lunch. They start fidgeting; they are not focused on the lecture.
Enter the coloring book. Now imaging that the teacher is now talking about the intestines and the students are looking at images of the intestines, choosing a color, and coloring it in. The intestines are part of the digestive system, so the students use the same color for the rest of the digestive system. They are focused; they are learning. They may even be getting creative with their use of color.
When they are tested, they remember that everything they colored in blue belonged to the same system. It has been shown that labeling and color-coding helps with visual memory. Active coloring integrates this function in the brain.
Teachers who use this method in their classrooms, note that when the students spend a great deal of time coloring, they are also looking at the images and absorbing the material through active learning.
Students with learning disabilities may benefit from coloring for a number of different reasons, the relaxing factor being the first. It has been shown that some students with learning disabilities or different learning styles, need to have at least three different senses stimulated simultaneously in order for learning to take place.
With traditional auditory and visual cues, students may make a single connection in the brain. Some students have no problem with this teaching style. However, adding in active coloring (a kinesthetic activity that also enhances visual memory), now effectively stimulates three centers in the brain, which in turn triples the number of connections made in the brain.
So, using a multisensory approach like coloring is a more effective way to help students learn and retain the information that they are being taught, and for some children it is the only way that learning is possible.
Coloring is beneficial at all grade levels. Elementary School teachers already know this, but it is becoming more accepted in middle school and even high school, especially with some of the coloring textbooks that are available.
College professors are now seeing students come to class with adult coloring books to help them focus on lectures, even when the content of the coloring book is unrelated to the lecture topic. There is no age group that is immune to the benefits of coloring.
Lucid Publishing offers a variety of coloring books and downloadable coloring lessons that help students (of all ages) and teachers learn about anatomy, marine biology, social studies, and art.