Use This Technique to Teach Your Child About Color.

When my daughter was very young, we read the classics for kids ” Brown Bear”, “Brown Bear”, “What do you see?” According to the plot, the main character notices a red bird, a yellow duck, a blue horse, a green frog, a purple cat, a white dog, a black sheep and a goldfish.

It’s a great book, but now I know it’s probably not the best book for teaching a child about colors.

Research by Melody Dye, a retired academic cognitive science researcher, suggests there is a problem with how adults typically represent colored words to young children, which is confusing to them. She explained the dilemma at Scientific American :

We like to use colored words “ pre ”, meaning before nouns. Therefore, we often say things like “red balloon” instead of using the post-nominal construction of “balloon red”.

Why does it matter at all? She explains that this has to do with how human attention works. Whether we realize it or not, in our conversations with others, we keep track of what is at stake, and often visually – for example, if I mention a giant dog running in a circle, you might well start looking for that dog.

Attach the noun before the description narrows the child’s attention. Explains the dye:

Say, for example, “balloon is red,” and you will help narrow the “redness” down to an attribute of a balloon, and not some general property of the world as a whole. It helps children understand what makes a balloon red.

In her study, when children heard colored words postnomally, their learning improved significantly . Conclusion: instead of saying “Red balloon”, say “Balloon is red”. Or change the title of your favorite toddler book: Brown Bear … oh, I mean the brown bear.


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