Puzzles are a great way to keep toddlers and young children entertained while covertly teaching them so much.
Puzzles allow us to challenge our thinking and exercise our minds. Some of the top benefits of puzzles to early childhood development include cognitive skills, fine motor development, problem solving, hand-eye coordination, self-esteem boosting, and social development.
Puzzles help increase visual special awareness and develop a deeper understanding of themes and topics. These themes and topics include alphabet letters, shapes, numbers and colors.
Fine Motor Movements
Fine motor skills are small movements that require using the small muscles of the fingers, toes, wrists, lips and tongue, and puzzles help refine these skills. When playing with puzzles, children are required to pick up, pinch and grasp pieces and move them around in order to sort, fit and solve the puzzle.
Children have to think and develop strategies to achieve a goal of completing a puzzle. This process is what helps young children develop logic, reasoning and problem solving skills that help them reach a solution, which are skills they carry into their adult lives.
Handling the different pieces of a puzzle help children understand the connection between their hands and their eyes. To complete a puzzle, children’s eyes and hands need to work together to recognize the object, envision how it will look and use their hands to make the piece fit.
Puzzles help develop positive self-esteem because children are setting small goals and achieving them once they complete the puzzle. Being able to overcome the challenges of completing a puzzle provides children with a boost to their self-confidence and prepares them to overcome other challenges in life.
One of the many benefits of puzzles is that they build social development skills. Puzzles provide a great opportunity for children to work together to accomplish a greater goal, which enhances and promotes cooperative play. Research also shows that a child’s brain development is influenced greatly when they act or manipulate the environment around them.
How should you get started puzzling with your family?
- Start easy. Don’t head straight to the 5,000 piece landscape; pick something suitable to your child’s abilities.
- Talk with your child about the picture on the puzzle before taking the pieces out.
- Take out the puzzle pieces and place them ‘face up’.
- Find the corner and edge pieces first and put them in place.
- Look for pieces according to the shapes needed to fit a space.
- Flip and turn pieces, match colours, look for ‘parts’ of pictures or lines that might go together.
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