Everything is pink: the house, the teddy bear, the tee-shirt, the car, the bedspread. Even if she knows colours, my three-year-old daughter has fun with the concept. With the hint of a smile and sparkles in her eyes, she swears that everything around her is pink. Perhaps it’s her way of checking the evolution of her learning – or just a way of teasing her mother.
Discovering colours is an important learning process for preschool children. It usually takes place between the ages of two and six. “Knowing colours is a prerequisite for entering preschool,” says Francine Ferland, occupational therapist and Professor Emeritus at Université de Montréal. A school-age child’s knowledge will be refined by listing the shades: pale blue, dark grey, etc.”. Around the age of four, a child is generally able to name the usual colours.
The little ones will integrate the notion of colours through games. Children need concreteness; they need to handle objects. Coloured blocks, sticks or pencils, and buttons (starting from the age of three) are recommended. A child’s curiosity may also be stimulated through games that don’t require any material. “For example, we show the child an item of a certain colour in the room and ask him or her to show us another item of the same colour”, says the author of a dozen books on child development.
Other simple and efficient games may be created to help children learn colours:
– With a deck of cards, play “red or black”
– Ask the child to assemble objects of the same colour from a set of objects
– Become a magician: mix together different gouache colours and create some new ones
– In a glass of water, add a few drops of food colouring and stir
No need for an “educational” toy: Ms. Ferland reminds us that when playing with our children, the most important thing is the attitude. “If the parent is enjoying the game, then the children can feel it. The activity is thus more likely to catch their interest.”