Young children are excited by bright colour — it grabs their attention and ignites curiosity. A baby is born with monochrome vision and is unable to distinguish the difference between colours, it is not until around 8 months when their colour vision is fully developed. By 3-4 years, a child can begin to recognise and name basic colours as frequent exposure can help strengthen this skill.
As well as being visually appealing to a child, what other benefits does colour have in early development? Infinite Playgrounds, educational play area designers, has provided us with more of an insight.
The advantages of colour
It depends on how old a child is as to what benefits they can gain from colour exposure.
As we’ve said, a baby is not born with the ability to see all colours. At 8 months, they begin to notice bright colours and this stimulates their minds. Exposing a baby to different shades of the same colour can help them make important colour connections early on in life rather than surrounding them with the same primary colours. Experts have said that showing patterns to a baby is important as it provides visual and cognitive stimulation for a growing baby as they focus on what they can see.
It’s vital for learning in the future that a child is able to identify different colours from an early age. Learning these colours allows them to recognise significant visual hues such as red as a code for danger and the meaning behind traffic lights. It is useful outside of the curriculum too — knowing the difference between a red and a blue coloured tap.
Having this skill can assist with their reading, writing and speaking skills. Describing an object without saying its colour is difficult! Similarly, when they are exercising their imagination when creating a story, colour is an important part of descriptive techniques.
Research into early development has shown that colour affects wellbeing and behaviour. Some experts claim that different colours enhance learning in different ways:
Blue — a colour that encourages creativity. If overused however, it can bring the mood down in a room. A cool blue enhances relaxation levels in individuals.
Yellow — a colour of happiness for children as it is associated with sunshine. This can lift the mood and excite a child due to its vibrant appearance.
Orange — this is said to enhance critical thinking and memory.
For teachers, a classroom full of colour is more enjoyable to teach in. Research has shown that colours are more memorable than monochrome too — a bright and colourful classroom makes recently learned experiences stick in the mind.
How can teachers incorporate colour into the curriculum?
As mentioned, and as research has proven, colour has great benefits for many. From decorating your classroom to introducing games based on colour, there are plenty of ways that you can incorporate colours into the classroom.
Why not combine colour with outdoor teaching? You can do this with colourful playground canopies and parasols. These can sit over areas of a playground, allowing the sun to shine through and create many colourful patterns for the children to enjoy. Pupils can trace shadows of the patterns on the floor with chalk and learn how they move throughout the day with the sun.
Encourage pupils to talk about diversity through colours. Discuss how colours have different meanings in various countries. For example red signifies good luck in China and green is a colour of independence for Mexicans. Encourage children to use colour to create their own national flags and teach them more about the country.
If you are around younger children, expose them to colour through exciting toys. Research has highlighted the importance of messy play too — where children can take part in unstructured play and get their hands dirty! Let them play with brightly coloured foodstuff such as jelly and develop their fine motor skills too.
Why not try some short games with children? How about colour eye-spy, colour-matching memory games? Or presenting coloured flashcards and encouraging pupils to name them?