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Research shows that this is the best way to teach colors

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At around 2 years old, your child is ready to learn to sort, match, and name colors. We’ve all probably said ‘this is a red apple’ or ‘that’s a yellow car’ before, thinking that it will help with color identification. However, a Stanford study suggests that there’s a much better way of doing it. 

Separate the adjective from the noun

Children learn to match colors as young as 1.5 years old, but identifying colors comes later at 2 years old. The English language is particularly tricky because the adjective is often grouped with the noun (i.e. ‘red apple’) making it hard for children to understand which is which. They might think that ‘red’ is the noun. 

Why is that?

Adult brains are good at sorting adjectives and nouns but this is a much harder task for children. After hours of repeating ‘this is a red apple’, children’s performance in color identification barely improved. However, once the sentence was phrased ‘this apple is red’, their performance improved dramatically. By separating the two, it becomes clear to them that ‘red’ is describing the ‘apple’. 

Remember this the next time you go grocery shopping or when you observe cars on the road - put the noun before the adjective! 


Helpful Resources

Original study

English