Q&A: 5 Year Old Boy Doesn’t Want to Write or Color

CME WebsitesMotor Skills, Therapist Q&A

blockquote_bgI have a 5 year old grandson, who is extremely bright, but cannot seem to get into writing and coloring. He can read well and he is able to sit and listen and has very good manner in class. I wonder if there is anything we can do to assist him in his writing and coloring. We have encouraged drawing and using chalk on the driveway. He does not seem interested in writing or coloring.

It seems to be somewhat common that some little boys (more so than girls), are not that interested in coloring and would rather participate in active play. Does your grandson have any difficulty with any fine motor skills such as zippers, snaps, buttons, using utensils, lacing, turning knobs, etc.? Some children dislike coloring because it’s difficult for them. If you find he has any difficulty with any age appropriate fine motor tasks, have him evaluated by a pediatric occupational therapist. This link goes over typical fine motor skills for a 5 year old.

It’s great that you have tried the sidewalk chalk. But, if that doesn’t interest him, think of what toys and activities are a motivator to him and be creative. Just coloring in coloring books or on blank paper can be boring for some kids. For example, if he likes pirates or games, help him make a treasure map of your house…you can build in the use of letters and also shapes for him to copy…then let him use his map to find some treasures that you have hidden ahead of time in the specified locations. If he likes music, you can use music/singing while coloring…for preschoolers we would sing wheels on the bus and when the wheels on the bus go round and round everyone would draw circles, when the wipers go swish swish everyone would make horizontal lines, when the people go up and down everyone would make vertical lines, when the horn beeps everyone would make dots, etc. Use stickers and crayons or markers together.

Place stickers in a pattern on the paper and let him connect the dots or make circles around some, triangles around others or write the letter that the sticker begins with (i.e., “C” for car) if you are working on letters. Also, you can do fun art activities such as pudding painting or finger paints. That way he can use his fingers to make letters, shapes and hand prints. Then encourage him to trace around the hand prints he created. Boys often like to build things, so use old cardboard boxes and let him paint or decorate those to make a fort or tent. Get large paper and trace and his body and let him color himself, making his own face and clothing, etc. Since he likes books, try relating your coloring activity to a book you just read…for example if you read “Where the Wild Things Are” then talk about the book and ask him to draw Max and the letter “M” or create his own Wild Thing. Often if adults color with kids and give them ideas to keep them interested they will stick with the task a bit longer, but remember, even at age 5, coloring for about 10 minutes may be the extent of his attention span.

Also, if you have a lot of old broken crayons lying around, enlist him to help you make new ones in the oven. This is something fun young kids can help with and often the new round crayons are considered cool and give new life to any coloring task.