Why is colour so important in early development?

As you may have noticed, young children love colour! It catches their eye and grabs their attention. A baby is born with monochrome vision and is 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 as frequent exposure can help strengthen this skill.

Colour is not only exciting for a child, but it also helps with their learning. Infinite Playgrounds, designers of playgrounds and colourful playground canopies, have provided us with more of an insight.

Improving important skills and well-being through colour

It depends on how old a child is as to how susceptible they are to the benefits of colour.

The attraction to colour does not begin at birth due to babies’ monochrome vision, instead it comes with time. At eight 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.

Having a strong knowledge of the different colours comes in useful in many situations that children will become exposed to. 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.

Being able to recognise colours assists with educational skills too such as creative writing. 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.

An abundance of research has been carried out on the effects of colour on the brain. 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.

When a teacher is in a colourful classroom, it makes them happier too. Research has shown that colours are more memorable than monochrome too — a bright and colourful classroom makes new learned experiences stick in the mind.


How to add a splash of colour to your curriculum

To fully expose children to colours and the language surrounding it, the curriculum must be adapted. 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 incorporate outdoor learning with colourful learning with 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.

You could teach children about cultural differences and diversity through colour. Talk about 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.

With younger children, introduce colour into learning through 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.

There are colour-based games that can be introduced into the classroom too. How about colour eye-spy, colour matching memory games or presenting coloured flashcards and encouraging pupils to name them?