The Importance Of Colour In Early Years*

*This is a collaborative post*

If you have young children or are ever around them, you'll know just how inquisitive their minds are and how many questions they like to ask. My two youngest nephews are indeed going through this phase. Apparently young children’s brains are stimulated by bright colours although when babies are born, they initially only have monochrome vision and are unable to distinguish the difference between colours. It is not until around eight months when their colour vision is fully developed. By three to four years, a child can begin to recognise and name basic colours. Frequent exposure can really help strengthen this skill.

Aside from being aesthetically pleasing to a child, colour can benefit a child’s early years development. Infinite Playgrounds, educational play area designers, have provided us with more of an insight.

The benefits of colour

There are many benefits to a child being frequently exposed to colour, and this varies according to their age.

As mentioned above, a baby is not born with coloured vision and their attraction to colour only comes with time. At eight months old, 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 also important as it provides visual and cognitive stimulation for a growing baby as they begin to focus on what they can see.

It is important that a child can differentiate between colours and know their appropriate names, even down to the different hues (navy blue, sky blue). 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 - for instance knowing the difference between a red and a blue coloured tap.

Being able to know the different colours helps with their speaking, reading and writing skills too. Describing an object without saying its colour is incredibly difficult! Similarly, when they are exercising their imagination when creating a story, colour is an important part of descriptive techniques.

Research has proven that colour can impact mood, wellbeing, productivity and behaviour. Some experts claim that different colours enhance learning in different ways:

·    Blue is 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 is 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 is said to enhance critical thinking and memory.

A colourful classroom is going to make for a more enjoyable environment for a teacher too. It gives them various colours to refer to when teaching and creates an overall pleasurable place to work. Research has shown that colours are also more memorable than monochrome. A bright and colourful classroom makes new learned experiences stick in the mind.

How to introduce colour into teaching

As we can see, learning about and being surrounded by colour is beneficial 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.

For outdoor learning, consider 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.

Inspire a conversation about cultural differences and diversity with colour. Talk about how colours have different meanings in various countries, for example red apparently 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.

For younger children, encourage sensory developments with colourful playmats and toys. Research has highlighted the importance of messy play too. If this is a new term for you, it's 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.

There are simple ten-minute games that you could also add onto the end of any lesson. How about colour eye-spy, colour matching memory games or presenting coloured flashcards and encouraging pupils to name them?

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