Painting on the windows can be an exciting change of pace.

How to Paint With Preschoolers

by Maggie McCormick

When you think of art and preschoolers, the image of a little one happily covered in paint immediately springs to mind. Painting is not just a lot of fun; it teaches many important concepts to young learners, including fine motor skills, science and creativity. Don't be afraid to get messy yourself as you paint alongside your preschooler.

Secure the area. Take a few breaths and relax. Things are about to get messy. Minimize the mess by laying down newspaper or a large sheet to act as a drop cloth. Keep the painting limited to one area of the home.

Paint-proof your child. She shouldn't be wearing her best clothes or favorite outfit. Play clothes are best, and you can cover them up with a child-sized artist smock or even dad's old T-shirt.

Offer a variety of brushes to work on fine motor skills. Try fat and thin brushes, cotton swabs, paint scrapers or other items that your child can use to spread the paint. Using these different instruments teaches her how to hold a variety of items.

Experiment with painting on different surfaces. Children are naturally curious and love to see what happens when they try different things. For example, a child painting on sandpaper might notice that the paint doesn't get into all the grooves.

Mix colors for a basic science activity. Before you start, ask her to guess what colors might appear when she mixes the two.

Ask about her painting. The youngest preschoolers may not be painting anything in particular, but that's no reason to not ask about it. You could ask, "What is this?" or "Which of these colors do you like best?" This will encourage her to be creative and help her practice communication skills.

Clean up together when you're done. There's no reason you need to get saddled with clean-up duty. Teaching your preschooler that cleaning up is part of any activity is important as well.

Items you will need

  • Washable paints
  • Paintbrushes
  • Cotton swabs
  • Smock or large shirt
  • Newspaper or drop cloth

About the Author

Maggie McCormick is a freelance writer. She lived in Japan for three years teaching preschool to young children and currently lives in Honolulu with her family. She received a B.A. in women's studies from Wellesley College.

Photo Credits

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