Children and even adults learn best and retain the most information when they engage their senses. Many of our favorite memories are associated with one or more of our senses: for instance, the color of your favorite cartoon character as a child or a song you memorized the lyrics to with a childhood friend or even what your favorite quilt felt like . Now, when your mind is stimulated with those familiar visuals, sounds or textures, your brain triggers a flashback memory to those special memories/moments.
It is vital for children to actively use their senses as they explore their world through sensory play as this is crucial for brain development – it helps build nerve connections in the brain’s pathways. This leads to a child’s ability to complete more complex learning tasks and supports cognitive growth, language development, gross motor skills, social interaction and problem solving skills.
Color and texture plays a very important role in one’s life. Color is used in our lives to beautify our environments while texture conveys a variety of messages and emotions. People express themselves and their personality using colors and textures. This comes through in how they decorate their homes, the color of the car they drive, the paint color and texture chosen for each room in their home, the color and texture of their clothing, the cosmetics they use or their hair color all sorts of things!
Role of Color
We all know that there is a strong link between colors and our emotions, we even have an abundance of idioms to show how each color can affect our mood. Do you ever feel blue? Or are you green with envy? Are you seeing red? Is your world black and white?
Well, color is a powerful communication tool and can be used to signal action, influence mood, and even influence physiological reactions. Certain colors have been associated with increased blood pressure, increased metabolism, and eyestrain.
So how exactly does color work? How is color believed to impact one’s life?
While everyone responds and reacts differently to colors, there are some color effects that have universal meaning such as colors in the red area are known as warm colors and include red, orange, and yellow. These warm colors evoke emotions ranging from feelings of warmth and comfort to feelings of anger and hostility.
Colors on the blue side of the spectrum are known as cool colors and include blue, purple, and green. These colors are often described as calm, but can also call to mind feelings of sadness or indifference.
In several ancient cultures, color was used as therapy & treatment. In this treatment:
- Red was used to stimulate the body and mind and to increase circulation.
- Yellow was thought to stimulate the nerves and purify the body.
- Orange was used to heal the lungs and to increase energy levels.
- Blue was believed to soothe illnesses and treat pain.
- Indigo shades were thought to alleviate skin problems.
Role of Texture
Babies and toddlers already have a fairly good sense of touch when they are born, but as with all the other senses, it’s important to encourage them to explore different types of textures. Texture is ubiquitous. It contains important visual information about an object and allows us to distinguish between animals, plants, foods, and fabrics. This makes texture a significant part of the sensory input that we receive every day.
What Do We Mean By “Texture”?
Texture is “the sensations caused by the external surface of objects received through the sense of touch.” Basically, how things feel. Think about squishing soft carpet between your toes, running your hand along an extremely prickly bush, or feeling a soft blanket.
Texture plays an important role in a person’s growth because it contributes to the development of a rich sensory language – providing experiences for children to recall later when engaged in other projects or activities.
Texture focused activities help because they
- allow children the freedom to explore varied materials without a predefined outcome;
- enable discovery of new and surprising effects, both visual and tactile;
- extend aesthetic experience beyond what is visible to them;
- broaden vocabulary as children encounter and learn to identify differences in texture – rough, smooth, soft, hard, lumpy, runny, slimy, prickly etc.
Color & texture through age development
There is a cycle of changing colors & textures that affects us through the different stages of life. These are reflected in our changing color & texture preferences. Children have likes and dislikes according to individual character and stage of development.
Infants & Toddlers
Strong, bright colors have the effect of shocking the baby’s inner vibrations, which can make the baby unsettled and restless, primary red, yellow and orange can stop a child from sleeping well and cause them to cry. Bold patterns, rough textures and strong contrasting colors are also likely to be over-stimulating in large doses so for a small infant soft tones of yellows or creams, peaches or pinks, which radiate warmth and peace are emotionally soothing and comforting.
Soft & silky drapes, mats or bed linen are preferred along with clear pastels to mid-tones of blue.
The importance of texture in nutrition
Texture is one of the main reasons for rejecting a food, both in adults and in children. Children need to learn ways of managing texture since healthy foods have more complex textures. This should be done as soon as children are developmentally ready, which makes the first year of life a critical period. If this opportunity is missed, proper texture handling may never be achieved.
Hence it is very important to introduce foods of various textures early in a child's life. If this is not done it could lead to them rejecting foods of complex textures even as an adult making their eating habits unhealthy.
It is advisable to stay away from bold geometric patterns & textures on walls or drapes as they are generally distracting. Various shades of blue-greens work as study/learning colors and coupled with yellow-creams and lesser amounts of orange-yellows create stimulation energy. At this age, they tend to prefer things with soft & fluffy texture, such as stuffed toys that are often their best friend and partner in crime, helping them grow and be happy. Even as adults they tend to remember how their favorite stuffed toy looked & felt.
Asserting individuality and growth spurts, both physically and emotionally, are typical of this time.
Teenagers go through an identity crisis and often use black to hide this as they feel it is cool. Using small amounts of fluoro brights will lift the young person away from the feeling of isolation or withdrawal from the world. Red is a favorite bright for this age group – intense energy. Bold blues and citrus greens also provide some tranquility. Texture and changing sheens in fabric (matt velvets to silky satins) offer a positive tactile experience to teenagers as well as to seem cool. At this age, a fixation with metal and glass in all forms is prevalent – car fetishes with young boys and jewellery with girls and hence they start moving from liking soft fluffy textures (of soft toys) to glass & metal.
Becoming old can bring about a sense of loneliness and fear so a variety in the colors in the immediate environment can boost interest in the world and keep cognitive function alive. Older people can be drawn to soft pastels but they may not have the vitality of hue needed to stimulate the mind and mood. Eyesight problems can also impair how the color is seen and what is seen. They also now prefer smooth, light and comfortable textures around them.
So what's the bottom line? Experts have found that color & texture can have an influence on how we feel and act. Colors play an important role in deciding what we like or dislike, because they evoke complex psychological reactions and give rise to relevant feelings and the addition of texture even changes the perception of colors however all these effects are subject to personal, cultural, and situational factors.