Did you know that children who master color names and numbers by three years of age do better in school? Color names are a reliable measure of language skills in young children and early number comprehension correlates with success in school later in life. So knowing how to help your toddler and pre-schooler learn colors and numbers is very useful.
Color Words Second - Ages 2 – 4 - Psychologists at Stanford University have recently demonstrated that children learn their colors better if you say an object name first then tell the color ---- Saying, “The ball is red” teaches ‘red’ better than saying, “the red ball”. Try these color identification games:
· After reading a page of a favorite book, ask your toddler to point to objects in the pictures by their colors – “Show me the house that’s white.” “Where is the car that’s blue?”
· Line up several of your child’s favorite objects that vary by color – cars, blocks, balls, etc. Ask your child to show you each by the color but say the color after the object name – “Can you find the block that is green?”
· Stacking rings – after your toddler stacks the rings go through the rings from bottom to top by saying the color of each after the word ‘ring’ – “The bottom ring is red, the next ring is blue, the next ring is green, etc.”
Bears! There are Three – Ages 2 ½ to 5 – The same Stanford University Psychologists have shown that numbers are learned better the same way as colors. Rather than teaching children numbers by saying, “There are six flowers,” children in their research learned numbers 30% better when told, “Flowers! There are six.” When looking children’s books with many of the same objects, cars or trucks for example, or animals, state the number of objects after you name them, just as you did with colors.
WHY? Michael Ramscar and his colleagues at Stanford have been studying ways parents can help their young children learn language earlier and easier. They recently presented their research on color and number learning at the Cognitive Science Society meeting in Boston this July. An excellent summary of their research is available in the May 2011 issue of Scientific American Mind, written by Michael’s colleague, Melody Dye.