When children are younger, their mind is stimulated by loud noises and bright colours. These things grab their attention and satisfy their inquisitiveness. 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.

Aside from being entertaining for a child, colours have many other benefits. Infinite Playgrounds, designers of sensory playgrounds and colourful playground canopies, have provided us with more of an insight.

Colour and child development

How children perceive and benefit from colour depends on their age.

As we know, a newborn does not have colour vision — this 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.

One part of early learning that is important for children is the ability to name the different colours that are out there. 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.

Perhaps surprisingly, being able to recognise colours helps with speaking, reading and writing too. 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.

Depending on the colour you are surrounded by, research has shown that your mood can vary accordingly. 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.

Teaching in a colourful classroom is more enjoyable too. Teachers and their assistants then have various colours to refer to when teaching and creating an overall pleasurable place to work. 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 colour into your curriculum

It’s clear to see that colour has a great effect on young people. From decorating your classroom to introducing games based on colour, there are plenty of ways that you can incorporate colours into the classroom.

If you spend time outdoors, why not see if your school would invest in 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 children to talk about cultural differences using 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 children in lower years of education, introduce colourful toys and mats. 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 lots of shorter games that you could play at the start or end of lessons. How about colour eye-spy, colour matching memory games or presenting coloured flashcards and encouraging pupils to name them.