Does it matter if my child colors inside the lines?
Any serious artist will quickly tell you that willingness to color inside the lines has nothing to do with artistic ability. Art is by definition personal expression of the artist. It does not matter if the color is inside the lines or if the color is true to life. Art is an experiment in expression.
I do not force my children to color, although one is occasionally amused by it. For the other, I provide plain paper, saving stress and money. Since art is not my strong suit, I read what others have to say. The newsletter from Mary Ann Kohl has helped me understand what I could and should provide for my children to foster their art abilities. You can sign up for it on her web-site.
What does matter?
Early child hood educators will often list coloring within the lines as an important step toward being able to write. My perception is that the issue is not whether the child wants to color within the lines, but whether they have the ability to do so. A child who physically can not color inside the lines will have trouble forming letters well.
My child who finds coloring uninteresting really enjoys drawing shapes and filling them in with lines like I described in my post on the Montessori method of writing a couple of months ago. He even likes to make the shapes look like certain objects. For us, this has been a great way to cover the skill without forcing an activity that he hates.
What do you see as the benefits of coloring? What other activities can you suggest that perform a similar function?