If your child can't colour within the lines, does that mean he/she has poor motor skills?

Posted by Ms Kheng on Nov 5, 2018 2:27:13 PM


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Have you ever been told that your 4yr old could not colour within the lines and that he/she has poor handwriting? So what can you do as a parent? Do you sit with him/her practicing formations and colouring within the lines of a colouring book or a printout?

If you are getting similar feedback about your child, my advice would be this: don't spend hours trying to make him/her fall in line. Instead, explore what he/she is inclined towards. And you'll be surprised (and probably mighty proud) of what you find. 

Good handwriting and colouring never created a masterpiece. Being unique and having a willingness to explore new things did.

Expressive colouring methods does not equate to poor motor skills. It is also important that you are not providing them with an impossible task of colouring a whole background with slim and sharp colour pencils. While we grew up colouring with colour pencils, it may not be the best tool for young children. There is a huge tactile difference between the hard lead of a low-quality pencil vs a soft lead-colour pencil and the soft felt tip of a marker. Soft tips makes the colouring process more enjoyable and manageable, especially for children.

1. Colour Markers

While markers are recommended, do note some markers are water soluble and that causes paper to tear when they colour on a surface with an extensive amount of pressure. Without guiding your little ones how to be gentle with the markers, they may end up with a set of dysfunctional markers with it's nip damaged within a month.


Oil based markers prevents paper from tearing when they are colouring, but you might want to be careful handing them permanent colour markers especially for toddlers who love to scribble every surface they can find access to.

Water based

Water based markers has limitations on surfaces to draw on, and wrapping up your walls and furnitures might not be a solution. Hence, we found a pretty good set of markers that are suitable for different surfaces and is safe for your child.




GIOTTO DECOR (Materials inks are water-based, safe and light-resistant.)

Suitable for decorating card, wood, glass, leather, plastic, rocks, Das modelling clay, metal, etc. Colours mark porous surfaces permanently and can be removed from smooth surfaces using a damp cloth.

Unlike standard fibre pens, Giotto Decor pens allow your child to produce stunning creations, owing to their optimal covering capacity - even on dark or coloured surfaces - and the fact that the colours can be layered on top of one another. The pens have a medium-sized tip (diameter: 4 mm), which is ideal for drawing small details and medium-sized backgrounds. Super resistant blocked nib, safety cap and ventilated cap. All colours wash off hands easily. However, owing to their specificity, they may stain clothing. Available in packs of up to 12 highly opaque colours.

2. Colour Pencils


Hence, are colour pencils the better option? For toddlers’ doodle without guidance, it is the best tool. I would recommend jumbo colour pencils with thicker body, making the grip easier for their little stubby fingers. Average colour pencils with slim and long body is not only unsuitable for children, but can also be a hazard for them. Reputable colouring brands like Crayola, Stabilo, Lyra, Faber-Castell, Caran d'ache and Staedtler carry their own jumbo version of colour pencils.

 3. What I grew up using


Growing up, my childhood favourite colour pencils were this set of inexpensive and good quality colour pencils. They were very popular when I was still a child(20yrs ago). They were manufactured in Japan before but now the production has moved to Thailand and the factory sits somewhere outside Bangkok.  These colouring pencils is double ended, giving you a bonus colour on the other end.

The 30 pencils has 60 colours in the cardboard slip case.  The pencils do not come pre-sharpened. They come between 24, 36, 48 and 60 colour sets. Unfortunately they do not come with open stock so you will be stuck with purchasing a new set if your favourite colours run out. They are convenient for travel and have a great range of colour.

If you are looking for a starter/non-toxic colouring set, let me know in the comments below. We are happy to help you put together an art kit for your child based on their age group!

Need help with activities to help your child with their motor skills? Drop in for a trial session with us at Chalk N Pencils!


Topics: children art, handwriting, coloring habits, motorskills