It’s a thrill to witness your little one point to a firetruck and say wed! (aka red), or hold a puzzle piece and try to articulate the word “triangle.” But learning colors and shapes isn’t just exciting (and adorable); it’s a foundation for several important things to come. That’s because it lays the groundwork for your child to:
Understand math. When your little one plays with nesting objects, builds with blocks and works on puzzles, she’s doing her first geometry lessons. These and other shape activities teach her about geometric concepts including shape, size, space and position. This learning prepares your little one for school, where she’ll be working on increasingly sophisticated geometrical tasks. In the United States, national education standards for kindergarten include geometry skills such as identifying, describing, analyzing, comparing, creating and composing shapes.
Shape learning also lends itself to early counting as little ones discover that triangles have three sides, squares have four, and so on.
Sort and categorize. Learning shapes and colors teaches children to think about attributes of objects and make observations about similarities and differences. This is a form of early math, and also helps to develop the logical thinking they’ll need for problem solving, science class and even (eventually) sorting laundry or putting groceries away in the kitchen!
Learn letters and numbers. What do you see when you look at the letters A, O or W? Or the numbers 0, 3 or 7? That’s right, shapes. When your little one learns about circles, triangles and squares, it sets her up for recognizing letters and numbers in the (not so distant) future. And when she learns to draw shapes, it prepares her for writing them. What’s more, shape games involving patterns help develop pre-reading skills.
Use descriptive vocabulary. Shapes and colors quickly become mainstays in your child’s language toolbox, allowing her to express what she sees (I see a yellow flower), what she wants (I want the square cookie), and ideas she has (I can put the triangle block on top of the square block). Receptive language skills, like following directions, also often rely on this vocabulary (please pass me the green crayon).
Use visual discrimination. The world is made up of shapes and colors. Once your child starts associating them with familiar objects, it helps her efficiently scan her environment by filtering out unnecessary information. If she’s looking for a banana in a basket of toy fruits, for example, she can find it quickly by ignoring everything that isn’t yellow.
Now that you’re up to speed on the many merits of this classic learning, you may have a newfound appreciation for the shape sorter, or re-reading Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? for the fourth time!