Puzzles have long been a favorite learning toy of kids, moms and educators. Giving children a variety of puzzles enhances their early childhood educational experience both at home and in school.
Here are some of the skills that are enhanced by playing with puzzles:
- Cognitive skills: Puzzles improve a child's problem solving and reasoning skills. It helps them to see whole-part relationships, increases their visual spacial awareness and depending on the subject matter can teach them a variety of topics like the Alphabet, Numbers, Color recognition, shape recognition, categories like pets or transportation vehicles, and more.
- Fine motor skills: Puzzles are fun way to improve fine motor skills. From the time a baby can start eating solid food parents give their children cheerios to help a child with their pincher grasp. Fine motor manipulation is key for writing but but children start learning this skill long before they can hold a crayon or a pencil. Various types of puzzles like peg puzzles and chunky can help teach little ones to pick up and grasp pieces and they aid in the development of the pincher grasp.
- Hand-eye coordination: As a child places each piece in the puzzle they are manipulating it so see if it fits. Their hand eye coordination is enhanced through this trial and error process.
- Social skills: Puzzles can be done alone but are also a great tool for fostering cooperative play. As kids ask for a piece to be passed to them, or discuss where a piece should go they are sharing the task and learning to cooperate. It can also help a child learn how to handle frustration when a piece does not fit.
When choosing a puzzle for your child consider the following:
- Age: Make sure you are purchasing the appropriate type of puzzle for your child's age. For example, jumbo knob or chunky puzzles are great for toddlers but jigsaw puzzles would be frustrating. At the same time a preschooler would really like a peg puzzle or jumbo piece floor puzzle. Older children prefer jigsaw puzzles ranging from 50 - 200 pieces depending on their skill.
- Material: Do you prefer wood, cardboard, painted, foam, etc Do you want a puzzle with textures to improve sensory perception as well as a cognitive skills?
- Types of puzzles: peg puzzles, chunky puzzles, jumbo knob puzzles, heavy duty cardboard floor puzzles, peg puzzles, foam puzzles, textured puzzles, shape sorting puzzles, sound puzzles, layer puzzles, and jigsaw puzzles.