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  • Mom Shares Laid-Back Secret to Nurturing Her Son's Drawing Skills

    Teaching kids to appreciate art doesn't have to be difficult as this mom shares.
    by Rachelle Medina .
  • Parenting can be a lonely job. What helps is having a community who cheers and listens without judgment. And that's what our "Real Parenting" section is for: a space where parents can share the joys, pain and the mess that is parenthood.
    PHOTO BY Rachelle Medina
    • Letting your kids draw and work on art projects at home can help develop their cognitive, creative, and motor skills.
    • Exposing children to art and having them choose what they want to draw can help encourage their interest in art.
    • Whether you’ve got a happy doodler or a budding Picasso, here are tips on how to teach your kids art and encourage their skills

    My son Goldo loves to draw. It’s the first thing he does in the morning after he eats breakfast and before he slips on his school uniform. If he has an extra 10 minutes during lunch break, he’d rather stay on his seat and draw on scratch paper, rather than run around outside.

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    Drawing keeps his hyperactive mind and body calm, and a seventeen-peso sketchpad and stubby Mongol pencil can keep him entertained for hours more than any kiddie cartoon on TV.

    I first saw glimpses of his drawing skills when he was 2-and-a-half years old. He started out with illegible Crayola scribbles on paper (and even on my phone). But in a few months, he could doodle what I could distinguish as Pocoyo characters, palm trees, and Candy Crush jellybeans. So I bought him a proper sketchpad and crayons and pencils that were not chubby so he could learn how to hold a regular-sized drawing tool.

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    At 4 years old, Goldo could already draw his favorite characters from a kiddie magazine. And look at those colors!
    PHOTO BY Rachelle Medina

    How art helps your child's development

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    Our family can’t say that he’s the best in drawing (there are thousands of amazingly talented and artistic children out there, and I always tell him that), but I do know that he’s good at it. And having children do art, especially at home, is essential to their creative, cognitive, and motor skills development.

    So what did I do? I let him be! I did not even enroll him in a special art class or school. But I also made sure I exposed him to places where he could be inspired.

    Expose your kids to art regularly

    On weekends, I'd alternate the places where I'd take my son: sometimes for play, sometimes educational, occasionally both if I'm lucky. One weekend I'll bring him to the pool or his favorite playground or park. Then on another weekend, I'll bring him to a museum, an art gallery, a historical site, or a crafts workshop if there is one.

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    The author, who also loves art and heritage sites, makes it a point to bring Goldo to events where he can get inspiration for his drawings.
    PHOTO BY Rachelle Medina

    I never limit these art adventures to children’s museums (though I bring him often to Museo Pambata, and he loves it). I believe that art is art — it should not be limited to the rich and intellectual, and it should cross all generations and social strata.

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    Though I'd always choose an exhibit that is appropriate for children, I still explain to my son what the show is about, how the artist created the sculpture or painting, and what the meaning is in terms he can understand. But I never dumb down an explanation of an exhibit’s theme simply because he's a child. Explaining the topic carefully — even if it is a serious or adult matter — makes the child more aware of relevant issues that he may encounter later on in adulthood.

    I also let him watch simple, how-to-draw videos on YouTube (always with adult supervision, of course). With these videos, Goldo could see the illustration process, sketching, and shading techniques, and he could still go back to review how a specific drawing was done.

    Goldo uses books, online images, and videos as reference.
    PHOTO BY Rachelle Medina

    Your child may be good at something, but don't force him to do it

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    If my son isn't in the mood to draw, I bring out the art materials later or the next day. When your child does take up a crayon, draw and paint alongside him to encourage him! But remember kids will have various interests and can even get obsessed. Let him explore as much as you can.

    Let your kid choose what he wants to draw

    I never impose any subject or object on Goldo to draw. Sometimes, friends will ask him to draw a specific object on request, but I never force him to do it if he doesn't want. Every subject or a character in his illustrations has been his personal choice.

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    Goldo loved reading K-Zone magazine and got inspiration from its printed pages for the characters he draws.
    PHOTO BY Rachelle Medina
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    Goldo drew the logo of MGM, a Hollywood movie studio, when he was 6 years old.
    PHOTO BY Rachelle Medina

    Let your child choose his materials and medium

    The traditional art medium for toddlers and preschoolers are crayons, but it’s totally okay to let them use other media, be it pastels, pencil, or watercolor. It’s crucial to allow the child to experiment with each art medium to have him find out naturally what works best.

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    Even as a toddler, Goldo knew how to color well and use proper shading in his drawings.
    PHOTO BY Rachelle Medina
    Goldo's finished drawing of Batman.
    PHOTO BY Rachelle Medina
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    When we buy art materials, I make it a point to take Goldo and let him choose what medium and paper he wants within a specific budget (usually small!). I let him test the pens and pencils on his own, and this way, he discovers that different art media produces various results and colors, and even the choice of paper creates specific textures on the artwork.

    Repetition is key

    Goldo would often copy illustrations in books, comic books, and magazines. And then he'd draw the same subject multiple times, refining the lines, changing the style, or playing with the color combinations.

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    Teachers noticed Goldo's skills and asked him to work on the Christmas decorations used as props for the school's Christmas program.
    PHOTO BY Rachelle Medina

    Don't dismiss "regular" schools 

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    The kneejerk reaction of almost every parent of a child with artistic tendencies is to send him to a special school that specializes in art. But two friends, one an artist and the other a gallery owner and seasoned curator who has nurtured the careers of many young Filipino artists, surprised me when they told me to send Goldo to a regular school. They advised to make him go to short, basic art workshops in summer, and then let him choose a formal art course when he is already in college if he still wants to pursue that path.

    Rachelle notes the importance of letting kids draw what they like, including favorite characters and places they visit.
    PHOTO BY Rachelle Medina
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    The reason, they tell me, is to avoid burning out Goldo, which can happen when a child is pushed to do a certain skill against their will too early or persistently. Another reason my artist friend gave is this relaxed way of nurturing an ability will enable Goldo to develop his personal style, unhampered and not influenced by any school or movement. It totally makes sense!

    I will not force Goldo to become an artist as an adult unless that is the path he wants to pursue. But if he decides to become a lawyer, an accountant, or a businessman instead when he grows up, I won't cry over it — that's the life he wants to live. I'll be okay with it, knowing that deep inside, his drawing skills are still there, waiting to come out again at any moment.

    Rachelle Medina is a mom of one and a freelance writer/editor. Before diving into the exciting world of freelancing, she was the editor-in-chief of Real Living. She now creates content that tackles home, design, and culture, to name a few. When she’s not busy, she loves visiting heritage spots and documenting the amazing drawings of her 7-year-old son.

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