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  • Writer's pictureAlba Macareno

How Do Children Best Learn Colours?

The colourful diversity of colours! From birth, humans live in a world full of different colours, and even babies as young as three months old can naturally recognise colours. During the first few years of life, children need to learn to name the different colours. Since children develop at different speeds, there are naturally differences in how they learn about colours. However, parents can easily support their children in everyday life and teach them the names of different colours without much effort through specific behaviours and simple games.

Babies Already Recognise Certain Colours and Have Favourite Colours

At birth, the sense of sight is the least developed of all senses, and the eyes are not fully functional. Additionally, visual skills need to be trained in the first weeks and months of life. Nevertheless, newborns can already recognise colours. A test conducted by Canadian researchers revealed that babies perceive the colour red best. Almost all participants were able to follow a red dot on a grey background, one out of three babies recognised the colour green, and one out of four recognised yellow. However, only one out of ten newborns followed a blue dot with their eyes, which is attributed to the development of the so-called S-cones. When babies are around 3 months old, their eyes can perceive almost all colours. Furthermore, a psychologist discovered in further studies that children generally prefer vibrant colours and strong contrasts, and that little ones already have favourite colours at around four months old. Babies are particularly drawn to bright colours like purple, red, orange, and blue. Subtle colours like grey or brown are not as popular. It was also found that some babies have only one favourite colour, while others like multiple colours. Despite these colour preferences, parents should not always buy their children clothes, shoes, toys, and other items in only their preferred colours, but rather expose them to the entire spectrum of colours. Only when children have clothing, shoes, toys, bed linen, and other objects of all colours around them daily can they get to know the diversity of colours and gradually remember the individual colour names through constant naming by their parents. Furthermore, parents can help their child learn the different colour words through appropriate games.

At What Age Should Children Know the Names of Colours?

The ability of a child to name individual colours certainly depends on their linguistic development. Some children can already name all primary colours before the age of 2, while others still struggle with it at 4 or even 5 years old. In general, children should have the ability to correctly name the most important colours by the age of 3. The order in which children recite the colours is not random; there is a reason for it. They first name the popular colours, which are usually: red, orange, yellow, green, blue, purple, pink, black, and white. Later, the colour names brown and grey are added, which children often confuse for some time.

Teaching Children the Names of Colours in Everyday Life

Parents can support their child's colour learning in a very simple way by incorporating different colours into their daily lives. Mothers and fathers can casually bring up colour names in conversation every day. For example, when getting dressed in the morning, they can tell their child that they have chosen a red sweater and blue pants for them or that they can drink their milk from the yellow cup today.

An opportune moment for learning colours also arises when playing with the child. Parents can name each building block used to build a tower or, while looking at a picture book, drawing a picture, or creating artwork with finger paints, they can mention the corresponding colours repeatedly.

Parents can come up with enjoyable activities for toddlers by incorporating small treats like gummy bears or Smarties in different colours. One classic and entertaining game is "I spy with my little eye, something that is red (green, yellow, blue, orange, purple, etc.)." Whether parents are on a car ride or taking a walk, there are plenty of opportunities to draw their child's attention to different colours. They can point out the cool red car, the beautiful blue sky, the green grass, or the yellow tulips in the park. Additionally, various colour learning games for children are available in the market.

If your child initially confuses the individual colours, there's no need to worry. It's completely normal. Similarly, don't let yourself be unsettled by statistical averages if your child takes a little longer to learn the colour names. If you have concerns or fears that your child may be colourblind or if you're worried about the reason behind their difficulty in naming colours, consult with a paediatrician.

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