7 Reasons to Start Your Child on a Sketchbook
My son is a third grader and he brings a sketchbook wherever he goes. He is known for this at his school and some kids have started to bring their own journals and asked their parents to buy the same pens my son uses. He is a prolific artist filling bankers boxes with old journals. I’m no longer a third grader, but I do the same. I have my sketchbook tucked into my bag along with a pencil case everywhere I go. I look forward to the moments throughout the day when I can sneak in a few sketches such as in waiting rooms or when I’m on hold attempting to make an appointment.
Keeping a sketchbook is an ages-old tradition of generating, documenting and keeping track of creative ideas; it is a powerful tool for creativity. Artists and design practitioners use sketchbooks daily in their professional and personal work. Think of it as a visual journal to express yourself and your ideas. It is a safe place to practice budding drawing skills and work through ideas. And a sketchbook is a great tool for children, too.
1.Fine Motor Practice and Drawing Development
When I am working with my 3rd graders in the art classroom, I have noticed that our collective skills aren’t what they used to be. Never have I seen kids have such trouble conceptualizing ideas and getting them on paper. And don’t get me started on cutting! As home downtime has moved to tablets and preschool has become academic, our kids are losing time cutting, playing with Play-doh and learning to use their hands. If 15 minutes of their tablet time moved to drawing in a sketchbook, we could see a vast difference in their fine motor skills. If you want your child’s penmanship or prowess on their musical instrument improve, then building these motor skills is key.
2. Non-digital Boredom Buster
Speaking of tablets, I am a fan. I think they offer many amazing opportunities for children and adults and this expands far beyond video games and educational apps! See my list of favorite tablet apps for creative thinking here. I am the first to admit that sometimes a tablet is the easiest solution to give your child an immediate activity. But, if you are looking to build a better boredom buster, then a sketchbook is it! Check out my free guide on how to build a sketch-to-go kit to for your budding designer.
3. Visualizing Ideas
When I am explaining things to people, I often reach for a piece of paper to draw it out. You have heard the phase a picture is worth a thousand words and this is so true for me. My sketches are often better than my words! When you get into the brain of a child, you are surrounded by endless fantastical ideas that just might be better expressed on paper than verbally. Over time, you will see your children’s ideas become more detailed and you will better understand the idea they are sharing with you, too.
4. Safe Place to Fail
My sketchbooks hold a whole lot of ugly. This book is just for me and it is where I get to work out the kinks of my ideas. Believe me, I often pour over images of gorgeous, perfectly drawn images in sketchbooks that I find in my Instagram feed, but the reality is that most working sketchbooks are a bit of a mess. What we know is that we learn best from failure. If you have a child, like my daughter, who would rather not try at all than fail, then a sketchbook is a wonderful tool to get past that. You can tell your child that their sketchbook is their private property and that they can draw/write whatever they want in that book. It is just for them. Then, honor that code of conduct- no peeking!
5. Tracks Development Over Time
At last count, my son has completed 28 sketchbooks in the last 2 years and countless reams of paper. We have a lot of fun looking through the old drawings together. Because he is only 9, his older drawings seem extraordinarily primitive and he will make comments on how he can’t believe that he did stick arms or that his people didn’t have necks. This is my opportunity to talk about how all of the time that he has put into his drawing is really paying off and that it is all about that: practice. Every one of us can learn to draw if we put the time in.
6. Enables Revisiting of Ideas
One thing I enjoy doing is going through my sketchbooks and revisiting ideas. I’m so thankful that I document my ideas this way because concepts can be fleeting! (And my memory isn’t getting any better either). I can see small ideas that didn’t go anywhere a year ago and see it with fresh eyes so that I can get it going again. The same is true for kids. My son resurrected a comic book idea he had toyed with about a year ago that didn’t go anywhere. After reviewing it again, he has recently completed 9 books in the series.
7. Point of Pride
Lastly, a person’s sketchbook is a point of pride. It holds our intimate ideas and secrets. It documents how we are changing and what we are thinking. For your child, it can be a priceless relic of childhood busting with glorious memories of time spent drawing.
I hope you will try starting your child on a sketchbook. Don’t feel like you have to get the fanciest notebook or the best art supplies. My son’s go to sketchbook is the black and white composition notebooks you find during the back to school season. Once that stuff goes on clearance, I buy dozens of them at $.25-.50 a pop and stock up for the year. Add to that a good pencil and eraser or a smooth ink pen and you are good to go.
For tips on keeping a sketchbook, check out this free download.