Yesterday, my daughter saw me looking at a color palette and came to sit next to me. “I like his yellow,” she said, pointing to a bright and sunny hue, “but this blue is great too!”. This time she was aiming for a primary blue.
My daughter loves colors and she loves to inquire about them. She specifically likes the special names like ‘purple’ or ‘magenta’ and loves to compare colors: “these two are the same! This is somewhat the color of my doggies nose, but not really.” Then she proudly brings the color samples forward and asks me how I call this color. I’ll say something like old pink, and then she’ll go to my husband and ask the same question, probably getting a different answer (he’ll probably say just red or pink).
|Image: Capture Queen on Flickr|
Yet when quizzed about colors, she will say anything that makes your head spin. ANd people so like to quiz children about color, because when a three year old doesn’t ‘know her colors’, obviously, this can only mean one of two things:
- she is not being instructed correctly
- she is colorblind
So quite often, I end up having a discussion that goes a little something like this:
- Little monster seems to have trouble with colors.
- No, she knows them well. She just doesn’t like it when people quiz her about it.
- But are you sure she sees them correctly? I mean, she might not be seeing them well.
- She sees them alright, she just thinks it’s annoying when people ask her about it.
- But are you actively teaching her about colors?
- No, I think she’ll pick it up well without having to sit down and look at a color wheel to define the primary colors.
It makes me wonder why people are so concerned with children, up from the time they become verbal ‘knowing their colors’. Sure, even a colorblind person will end up knowing the sky is blue and the grass is (usually) green. moreover, colors are something so personal! You can see terra cotta where I see orange. Isn’t it much better to let our children discover the full specter, the beauty of color, it’s intensities and mixture and adaptation through light, on their own pace. Why is it so important for a child to answer ‘red’ when you show them a red dot in a picture book?
And what if the child is indeed colorblind? Aren’t you shaming and frustrating him with the constant testing and quizzing? You don’t ask a paralyzed child to ‘grab the bear’ every time you see them either, because that would be insensitive.
If I were in doubt that my child was colorblind, I would present her with a suitable test (which are available online) in due time. In the mean time, we’re all happy when she marvels about similar colors and changing colors.