My daughter and I spent this morning strolling through a nearby park, together admiring the autumn brilliance of leaves in bright red, fiery orange, and burnished gold. My daughter delighted in stomping through the leaves and picking out the most vibrant ones, then holding them high above her little head while shouting “Look Mommy! A RED one!”. No small feat for such a little person.
Did you know that identifying and naming colours is actually a far more difficult task than most parents assume? The next time you are out walking in the autumn leaves, pay attention to the colours that you see. Is that really a red leaf, or is it closer to being orange? And that orange leaf you are holding – Is it truly orange, or is it closer to being yellow? Think about the last time you selected a paint colour in the hardware store – How many shades of blue did you see on those paint chips? Hundreds, most likely. And in real life, the variations are literally endless. Now imagine your child’s little mind trying to make sense of it all, and to figure out which of those endless shades are called “blue” or “red” or “green”. There is nothing at all simple about learning colours - And yet our little ones do it!
Did you know…
· The very first colour that babies are able to see is red. Young babies will be most attracted visually to pictures or toys featuring bold black and white patterns and/or the colour red.
· It will be easier for your child to identify colours (“Can you find the red leaf?”) than to name them (“What colour is that leaf?”).
· On average, children are able to identify two or more colours by their third birthday, and to correctly name several colours by the age of four. There is great variation, however, and some children will begin identifying and naming colours even before their second birthday.
· Boys are more likely to be colour blind than girls. However, being a little late to identify or name colours isn’t necessarily an indication of colour blindness. If you have any concerns about your child’s vision, speak with your doctor and arrange to have your child’s vision tested.
· All children should have their vision tested by the age of two, and many experts recommend vision testing even earlier – by six to twelve months of age (Yes, it is possible!). Speak with your doctor or contact your public health unit to find a good pediatric optometrist in your community.
The world is alive with vibrant colours, at this and every time of year. And it is never too early to begin talking with your child about their colourful world. When your child reaches that delightful stage of identifying and naming colours, I hope you’ll stop to think of that array of paint chips in the hardware store, and to celebrate the true wonder of their discovery!