Can you describe the things around you without naming their colour? How about setting up a whole room with only one colour? Would you know what to do at traffic signal if you cannot tell apart the colours?
Sounds difficult? That’s because colours are vital in our experience of the world. That’s also why it’s crucial that your child be able to identify and tell apart colours.
You may have heard about the importance of colours in childhood education but do you know that children don’t see colours the way most adults do?
A child’s ability to see colours, identify them, and differentiate between them grows over the years. In this blog, we speak about how this ability develops, how you can introduce your child to different shades, and some colour-focused activities that will help stimulate and hone their cognitive skills.
Seeing colours at different ages
Newborns – When a child is born, they can only see in monochrome. Since their vision is highly sensitive and only beginning to develop, it’s best to not surround them with too many colours at this stage. Having a monochrome room, simple wooden rattles, and plush toys with patterns will help gently stimulate their brains during the first few months.
3-6 months – At about three months, your baby will be able to see the colour red. This is followed by other colours such as green and yellow. Their vision is still sensitive, so make sure they are not being overstimulated by too many colours. Surround them with neutral colours, natural light, and wooden tones.
6-12 months – By about eight months, a baby will have a well developed sense of colour. They will also be able to make different colour associations at this point so keep pointing out and naming colours to them.
1-3 years – A toddler will be able to see almost all colours and differentiate between them. During this time, their oral skills are also rapidly developing so they can probably identify and name them too. You can further hone this skill by introducing them to different shades of colours at a young age.
4+ years – As your little one grows, they will start having colour preferences. This is a wonderful expression of their individuality so make sure you notice and nurture this! Let them get involved in decorating their rooms and selecting their toys and clothes as this will give them a chance to creatively tell you more about the people they are becoming!
Activities to introduce children to colours
1. Bright and colourful toys – Toys are the easiest way to help a child learn anything as children interact with the world through play. Toys with all the colours of the rainbow are ideal for teaching your child the basic colours. You could also use blocks with patterns for babies, colourful activity triangles for toddlers, and sorting boards for preschoolers.
2. Colour card games – Card games are another great way to get your little one comfortable naming colours. You could use flash cards to teach them colours associations, or play simple memory games where they have to pick and match cards of the same colour.
3. Colourful Books – Everyone loves a good book, including babies and toddlers! Use gorgeously illustrated books to grab your child’s attention and familiarise them with colours. Point out the colours of the ducky, monkey, and little girl to help them form connections they won’t forget.
4. Painting and art – There’s nothing like some creative fun with stamps, paints, crayons, and sketch pens to get your little one excited about colours! Making art will help them identify colours, build associations, discover which shades they like, and beautifully express themselves!
5. I-spy a colourful thing – How about a fun game of I-spy? Pick an object in the room, mention the colour, and try to get your child to guess it! They are sure to remember the colour to use it and win the next time, making this simple game a fantastic way to solidify their knowledge of colours.
6. Colour sorting basket – Fill a basket with items of a few colours and ask your toddler to sort and group items of each colour together. This will sharpen their colour recognition, recall, and differentiation abilities. Make sure there aren’t too many colours so it doesn’t get too confusing for your child!
Keep playing and learning colours!
This video with early years educator Ashrita Johnson will tell you more about how children see and respond to colours. She also shares some awesome DIY activities that will help stimulate colour learning for young children.
Remember that it takes time for a child to see and identify colours. And many children spend a long while soaking in what’s around them before they begin to speak and share what they’ve learnt. So be patient, stay the course, and let your little one explore and shine in their own time!