Colour blindness

2 Pre-school and key stage 1

First of all, consider screening children as they enter your centre. A local optician may be able to arrange this, as can the visual impairment team in your local authority.

Knowing which children are colour-blind (and chances are that there will be at least one in every year group) can help you to support them better.

Think about the lighting in your classroom. Good lighting can make it easier for children to recognise colour. Colour-blind children should sit in good natural light. Bright sunlight and artificial light can distort colour perception.

Take time to label things like coloured pencils, paints, beads, bricks and colouring material according to colour. In the case of drawing and writing materials, mark each crayon or paint pot with the name of its colour. This will enable colour blind children to work independently.

Think about how you colour-code boxes of toys, art materials and books. Little ones will find it difficult to read labels using words, but you could find a creative alternative. For example, the red beads could have a photograph of a fire engine and the green ones have leaves.

Most young children learn the colours of things, but they do not know what they are. They can tell you that the grass is green, even if they cannot see the same colours we do. Give them clues to help them make the associations and learn to use and choose colours correctly.

Avoid using colour-on-colour books and other similar support materials. Black on white will be most appropriate for colour-blind children.

In sports and games (including board games), ensure that children can see who is on his or her ‘team’, and that they can see the ball or the ‘men’ on the board.

Check computer settings, web pages and computer-based teaching aids to ensure that the child can pick out the relevant information. Colour-blind children may struggle with coloured keys that provide instructions and information.

Read about Key Stage 2 children.

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