Do you draw or paint? If you want to make something appear far away on a two-dimensional canvas or piece of paper, how do you do that? You make it smaller. The reason this works is that as objects move farther away, their image on the retina of our eye gets smaller.
However, even though the image is getting smaller, we don’t think the object is really getting smaller. If you are talking to a friend and she starts walking away, you don’t say, “Oh my! She’s shrinking!” Your mind makes whatever adjustments are necessary. This is what is referred to as size/shape constancy.
While the capacity to make these adjustments is something we use every day and take for granted, it is important to realize that it is not something that is present at birth. It is actually a skill that has to be learned. And it is through a variety of relevant experiences during the first months of life that babies gradually acquire size/shape constancy.
So whenever you and your little one are immersed in seemingly simple sensory and physical activities at Romp n’ Roll, keep in mind that what may be relatively mundane for you is complex and challenging for her. And while you may be merely having a good time, she is learning some critical lessons that will serve her well for the rest of her life.
Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll. After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project. He may be contacted via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.