Teaching Colours to my Daughter: The pen is Red

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At 21 months, my daughter doesn’t really know her colours but she is able to do most of her letters and sounds. Given my background in art, maybe my peers would find that a surprise or perhaps I may be even be a little conceited to think that it can come later.

So I took a look at most of the baby board book recommendations on my Amazon account and found that the following themes seem to be really popular–numbers, colours and animals. And so I set out to try to teach her colours.

I thought about how I would teach her colours- using real life objects? flashcards? re-visit those themed board books? It was not until I came across this article (interestingly via Facebook) that a light went off.

“Why Johnny can’t name colours” explains how many children often have difficulty doing well on tests on colours. Apparently, retaining knowledge about colours (and then responding to a question on them) isn’t really a walk in the park. It takes a long time to learn this and even children whose parents claim to have “gotten it down pat” often fail tests to point out colours being asked. Does this mean that our children are mostly colour-blind at the early learning stage?

The language learning problem here isn’t limited to learning “a word to color mapping, but also in learning the peculiar color “maps” your language uses in the first place. The task is further complicated by the fact that color is ubiquitous in everyday life. ” This is further complicated by the fact we have things in so many different hues in the immediate environment.

The article explains that the conventional way we teach colours is “prenominally”- such as “the red balloon”. This is because it is exactly how we make sense of colours, grammatically. But if we teach colours, using the postnominal construction, “the balloon is red.”, the results would be different.

The study showed that children with postnominal training improved significantly over their baseline test scores over those who were taught “the red balloon”.

So I’m going to try this approach this week and will see how we go.

Source: “Why Johnny can’t name his colors”, Melody Dye, July 13, 2010, Scientific American (http://www.scientificamerican.com/article/why-johnny-name-colors/), retrieved 7 Feb 2016.

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