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the importance of colour in early years

The Importance of Colour in Early Years

Recently, we’ve been looking at different ways in which we can help bear with his development and learning. We were worried about his speech up until recently as he barely said any full words, although I was probably comparing him to other children his age a little too much. The one thing we haven’t quite established yet however, is colour. We have recently been attending a toddler group which lasted for 8 weeks and focused on the key aspects of development and learning for children who were walking up until 2 and a half years old. It was only a small group but meant it was much easier to do different activities. Each week would focus on something different such as numbers and counting, songs and rhyming, physical activity etc. There was a craft activity each week either painting or sticking and towards the end of the course, bear had really gotten into it and developed some skills. One thing I think he enjoyed the most though, was an activity where he had 6 different coloured bowls and lots of dinosaurs of the same colour and he had to put the coloured dinosaurs into the matching bowl. He got this straight away and he absolutely loved it (so much so, I’ve found the set that was used and added it to his Amazon Wishlist oops!) It was then that I realised how important it is for us to focus on the colour aspect of his learning as much as speech, numbers, letters etc.

When bear was younger, he was given black and white books from the health visitor and other groups to play with and it was explained how babies can only see in monochrome and so the black and white books were perfect for them. This was really interesting information to me (I’m such a nerd sometimes ha) but did you know, it isn’t actually until a child is around 8 months old when their colour vision is fully developed and by approximately 3-4 years of age, a child will begin to recognise and name basic colours (although this isn’t a definite age, babies and children learn and develop at all sorts of rates and stages differently). As much as I love not too in-your-face type toys and brightly coloured products, these are actually some of the best for young children as it engages their minds and grabs their attention (at least all the brightly coloured toys and baby items lay around the house are worth it!)

I guess though, what we want to know is, as well as being in your face and attractive to babies, how else can colour help and aid a child’s development? There’s gotta be a reason for it all hasn’t there?

The benefits of colour

The benefits a baby/child gets from exposure and interaction with colour differs for each age group. I’ve already mentioned about how a baby can only see monochrome until their colour vision has developed at around 8 months, this is when they notice more, their minds are stimulated and you can see how they are processing things. If you show a baby different shades of the same colour, this can help them make those early important colour connections as opposed to sticking with just the primary colours. Experts have also said that introducing patterns to babies is important for providing visual and cognitive stimulation for them. Although, patterns that are too fussy and unclear can also stress a baby out (sometimes).

However, for a child, things are slightly different. It is important to tell them all of the colours and shades and for them to understand about hues etc. This can be particularly important with things such as traffic lights and knowing what certain colours mean i.e. red=danger, amber=get ready, green=go. (or as bear says, “go, go, go”) This learning is also really useful for their curriculum for school as much as it is helpful for outside of the curriculum they will learn.

With bear, we always try and describe things to him to see if he will pick it up. For example, if he wants a piece of fruit, I ask him what he wants or give him a choice. I’ll say to him “do you want the banana (hold up banana) or the apple (hold up the apple)?” and I could probably sit and repeat myself a hundred times, although it definitely must be working as he can now tell us if he wants a banana or apple. We’ve now gone to describing the colours but he hasn’t quite gotten it yet, although I’m not expecting him to right now really.

We all know that things like the colour of a room or different items etc can have a great impact on mood and efficiency as well as cognitive ability. For example, The colour Blue is a colour that encourages creativity, but can also be quite a sad colour and can lower the mood if used too much. And the colour Yellow is a fairly bright, happy colour and is commonly associated with sunshine. It’s such a huge mood lifter too! I don’t know about you, but if I’m decorating or trying to pick a colour scheme out for something, I always look at the colours and what is suitable where. We’ve always had yellow or light green in the kitchen for example, and usually reds/oranges for warmth in the lounge (though obviously that was a few years ago haha!)

How can we introduce colours through teaching?

So, I’ve discussed how beneficial it is for children and babies to be exposed to different colours and the effects, but how can we aid this? As I said previously, we found the dinosaur with bowls activity really fun and everytime he picked up a dinosaur I would tell him what colour it is and say “now look for the orange bowl” or whatever colour it was. These kinds of activities can be found on Amazon and you could also make your own by gathering items of the same colour from around the house and separating them. E.g. different coloured duplo blocks, grapes (cut of course), other parts of toys that can be easily handled and separated.

The learning can also be taken outside. What about a colourful playground area with canopies or parasols of different colours that can allow sunshine to come through and create wonderful patterns for children to enjoy. You can also make your own suncatchers with different coloured cellophane. When the sun comes through, it’s really fun for children to draw around the shadows with chalk on the floor (outside still haha) and they can also learn about the patterns of the sun and how the light changes when in different areas of the sky at different times of the day.

For younger children and babies, sensory play, coloured treasure baskets, colourful playmats and toys can all help with their sensory and colour development. There are many books that are really good for babies which have big black and white patterns on them with splashes of colour here and there. Messy play is superb for development with colour and texture too and kids love getting dirty (well, most I know ha!) Why not try to include things that could help with their fine motor skills too or a variety of activities to get them exploring different things. Things like play dough and jelly are really good for this.

How do you incorporate colour into your child’s learning and development and do you have any special tips/tricks or activities to help a child at specific ages? I’d love to know (and also maybe borrow a couple of ideas for bear).

*Disclaimer: This is a collaborative post with Infinite Playgrounds.

Image Source: Photo by Jess Watters

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1 Comment

  • Reply Erika Parker

    I remember a friend saying that her child had associated each day of the week with a particular colour. She had done this all by herself. Years later she still retained the same colour associations.

    February 14, 2018 at 5:48 pm
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