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If you have small children, you know just how much they enjoy puzzles. From simple, single shapes to the more advanced jigsaw puzzles, kids and adults alike love them.
While they are primarily seen as fun toys, they actually hold some incredibly educational benefits for young children.
Enhance Problem Solving Skills
First of all, puzzles provide your child with the opportunity to practice the trial and error method of finding a solution. Manipulating the pieces and figuring out where they fit and where they don’t, introduces your child to the early math skills they’ll need to be successful later on.
Secondly, puzzles are perfect for teaching your children how to persevere in the face of a challenge. Puzzles are really the only “games” that cannot be completed or won by cheating. You can’t force the pieces together if they don’t belong and there is no way to out smart your opponent, so to speak. The only way finish is to exercise patience while staying focused on the bigger picture.
Build Hand-Eye Coordination
Flipping, rotating, moving and manipulating the pieces allows your child to give their fine motor skills a fantastic workout.
Using these fine motor skills while finding a piece, picking it up, searching for its proper spot and fitting it into the puzzle allow your child the opportunity to strengthen the connection between their hands and eyes.
Strengthen Cognitive and Memory Skills
Puzzles are perfect for helping your child, especially preschoolers, develop critical cognitive skills.
As they get older and enter their school years, they will be expected, on a daily basis, to follow a set of instructions to complete projects and tasks. Playing with puzzles while they are young teaches them not to get ahead of themselves and to complete these tasks one step at a time just as they would with the pieces of a puzzle.
As an added bonus, your preschooler will build their memory skills as they learn to recognize the simple shapes and colors that make up the easier toddler and preschool puzzles.
Now that you know exactly what they can do for your child, here are some tips for getting your child(ren) to play with and engage in puzzles:
- Make sure they are age appropriate. While it shouldn’t be so easy that your child could do it in their sleep, being too challenging could frustrate them into giving up.
- Bright, fun, and colorful shapes and pictures can help engage younger children and hold their attention for a longer period of time.
- If at all possible, find puzzles that appeal to their interests. Is your little one an airplane fanatic? Obsessed with princesses or trains? Find puzzles that incorporate those things!
- Work with them on a more difficult puzzle. While they still shouldn’t be too incredibly hard to put together, the difficulty level can be slightly increased if you work on completing a puzzle with them. Not only will their minds have to work a little harder but you’ll get in some quality time with your little one.
- Have them create their own puzzle. What kid wouldn’t love putting together a puzzle that they made themselves! We recently made our own rainbow puzzle and even though it was a bit more difficult than the ones Nicholas regularly plays with, he was more excited about putting that one together than I’ve ever seen him with any other puzzle.