Observe the child in play with objects at different distances away from his body. Alternatively, have a wind-up or moving toy that can move slowly. Place a tissue box or other barrier on the floor.
Place several balls of the same size and color in different places: close to the child, within reach, and out of reach. (Using the same object makes it more likely that distance judgment is the factor influencing selection.) Observe which objects the child tries to access. Alternatively, using the activated toy, first make the toy go across the floor in front of box. Then make the toy go across the floor behind the box.
The child will first reach for the closest object, and begin to mouth and feel the ball. When that is removed, the infant will reach for the ball that only requires leaning forward to get it. When this is removed, the infant will exert effort to get the balls that are out of reach. This demonstrates awareness of distance. The child will reach for the toy when it is in front of the box, but not when it goes behind. This indicates the awareness of distance in relation to the box as a barrier.
The infant is learning about perspective, depth perception, and where things are in relation to himself. Parents will be fascinated to understand that the infant is learning all these things at such a young age. Explain that it is important to place toys and materials at different distances, heights, etc. Not only does this encourage the child to use motor skills, it enhances the child’s spatial awareness and problem solving.
North Carolina Department of Public Instruction, 2015
©2015 by the North Carolina Department of Public Instruction. This work is licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License. To view a copy of this license, visit https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-sa/4.0/.