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tonya mead

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Color Your World to Improve Your Child's Learning
by tonya mead   
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Last edited: Saturday, January 03, 2009
Posted: Saturday, January 03, 2009

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This article provides helpful advice to parents who are interested in providing a calming environment to enhance their child's learning.


Color Your World to Improve Your Child’s Learning

By: Tonya Foust Mead

Would you do almost anything to increase your child’s intelligence score by up to 12 points? Hire an expensive tutor? Schedule piano and other music lessons?

What if you found out that all you needed to do was to change the color of your child’s playroom?  Or remove household clutter? Please read on.

 Ground-breaking Research

More than one century ago, color researcher Faber Birren, wrote Color & Human Response that subsequently has been reprinted several times. His book summarized ground-breaking research of leading Swiss and German researchers Luscher, Ostwald, Pfister, Rorschach, Vollmer, among others linking the relationship between color and the human response.

Color and Child Development

Although the book contained nine chapters, the most intriguing information relevant to child development appeared on page 51 and discussed a three-year study conducted by Henner Ertel, who at the time was director of the Institute of Rational Psychology, Munich, Germany. Mr. Ertel grouped colors into two categories (a) colors evidenced to stimulate alertness and creativity and (b) colors found to make children ‘duller.’ Please see below.

 Colors to stimulate alertness and creativity

Light Blue


Yellow- Green


 Colors found to make children ‘duller’




 Up-to-Date Color Therapy Research

According to Julie Barrett, who prepared an article The Color of Learning for the Department of  General Services, State of California, about 80% of the sensory information we perceive about the world around us is visual. Additionally, this sensory information not only tells us what we see, it affects how we feel. Further, ‘the presence of color becomes more important in the interior environment, since most people spend more time inside than outside.’

 * Splashes of bold colors (excluding walls and flooring) such as red and orange improves social behavior, can uplift the spirit and lessen the traits of hostility and irritability.

 * The color overlay of a blue or gray -hued transparency over reading material was shown to increase the reading comprehension of 80% of dyslexic children.

 * Relaxing colors (peach, rose, aqua blue, light brown) should be used for chairs, cushions and seating areas to encourage your enhance the reading pleasure.

 * Clutter (general house area, child’s room or classroom) can cause over-stimulation of information and can detract from the learning process.

 In addition to the most recent research of color and the impact of environmental color on learning capacity, researchers are finding that visual stimulation must be controlled.

 Strategic Color used to Lessen Negative Effects of Right-brain Entertainment

The home environment of today is considerably different from those of Ertel and Birren’s time. Today, video games and television compete for your child’s attention. Constant exposure to visual imagery aids in the development of their right cerebral hemispheres. Unfortunately,  too much concentration in an effort to master right brain activities may weaken their left cerebral hemisphere abilities. Language, reading and the ability to visualize a narrative from a book are just the skills required to master standardized tests and to progress academically. As such, parents might strategically use the power of color to coax more left-brain activity.


Barrett, J. (2008) Design to Maximize Student Performance. California Department of General Services.

Birren, F. (1978). Color and Human Response. New York: Van Nostrand Reinhold Company.

Dr. Mead, PhD, MBA, MA is a consultant specializing in human behavior, school and social psychology. She can be contacted at:




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