Pre-schooler is a very tender age and the kids learn whatever we teach them. Their minds are like blank slate so our endeavor must be to write with the most efficient ink. Because this is an age when the kid finally starts developing concepts and understand right from wrong. So this is an age when parents should introduce kids to several mind games instead of mere physical games. As several types of mind games like puzzles can effectively boost a child’s intellect and help him achieve his developmental milestones much effectively. So before we dwell into further discussion on how puzzles can make a difference, let us first understand what puzzles exactly are.
What Are Puzzles?
A puzzle is an important educational tool that might come in form of a game, or a problem. And this can contribute in a huge way in determining a person’s knowledge and understanding. Puzzles can force a person to use his intellect as only logical and step-by-step solving can fetch him an answer.
And these puzzles can be of different types. And these different types tap on to different areas of intelligence and understanding. But the common thing in all types of puzzles is the sense of accomplishment and challenges that they involve.
Types Of Puzzles
Puzzles are definitely timeless and classic. The tiny pieces call out for your child’s attention and allow him to explore his skills. In addition to all this, the fun that it provides is just unbeatable. They are the best solution for boredom for children and adults alike.
So now, let’s explore some of the most widely used puzzle varieties, to be able to make a better decision for your young one.
- Non-Connecting Puzzles
These are the simplest kinds of puzzles and prove to be the best for your pre-schooler. In this type, the different pieces of the puzzle have no connection with each other and they all uniquely belong to different categories. For example, a 5-piece puzzle with whole fruits drawn on it or numbers written over them
Once the child reaches a good amount of proficiency in a puzzle with lesser pieces, he may then proceed towards the 26-alphabet non-connecting set of puzzles. Some of the types of non-connecting puzzles are,
- Geometric insert
- Fit-the-figures-right (it can have various shapes like triangle, circle, square etc.)
- Non-Connecting Puzzles
- Connecting Puzzles
For the children who have been finding their peace and solace in non-connecting puzzles, connecting puzzles might come as a challenge. This transition is quite a jump for little ones and might require a lot of thinking and perceptual skills.
These connecting puzzles usually come as board puzzles and do not have any reference to the child regarding where the pieces might go and fit. And this is precisely why they come as a challenge. For pre-schoolers, a teacher or a parent can start the game and leave for them to finish. Some of the connecting puzzles are:
- Column matching
- Connecting Puzzles
- Jigsaw Puzzle
Here’s a task for you, close your eyes and imagine a puzzle game! Done. Now the classic tongue and groove puzzle that came in your mind is what jigsaw puzzle is. These are a step ahead of connecting puzzles where the child needs to fit every bit of the picture with each other. These do a great job in improving hand-eye movement coordination along with developing child’s perceptual skills
- Jigsaw Puzzle
- Missing elements
Benefits Of Puzzles For Pre- Schoolers
The contribution that puzzles make in child’s intellect and physical growth is enormous. Famous child psychologist Jean Beckham says that “Detecting and enforcing various skills becomes much simpler with the help of puzzles. It’s not just a game but a therapy”.
She added and revealed that for preschoolers it especially helps by improving their cognitive skills, visual perception skills, concept development and might also increase their patience and persistence level.
Skills Developed By Puzzles In Pre- Schoolers
- Enhances gross motor skills : This can be enhanced through stacking blocks and other building games
- Improves fine motor skills: The delicate parts of puzzles work wonder in improving skills that require small and specialized movements. When playing with puzzles, kids are required to pinch, pick up and grasp pieces and sort them and put them into correct places
- Hand-eye coordination: A trial and error method is involved when kids play with puzzles. It involves a lot of hand and eye coordination. Like for example, if your child is not able to place a piece of puzzle in its right spot, he will try doing it all over again and this will involve them doing what they actually see
- Effective shape recognition: From simple puzzles like a square, triangle, circle to more complex ones with geometric inserts etc. are the best games to introduce certain shapes to your child. It’s fun and knowledgeable at the same time and child learns faster through games
- Improved memory: Simple jigsaw puzzles and hidden pictures helps a child in exercising his memory. Because in order to reach the solution, the child is required to remember the shape, color, and size of various parts of the puzzle
- Forming a strategy and setting goals: To be an achiever in life, it is very important that the child learns to set goals for himself. And puzzles make him do exactly same. The first goal will be to solve the puzzles and the next goal will be to form a strategy to solve the puzzle
- Social skills: Puzzles encourage cooperative play. As kids work together as a team to solve a puzzle, they discuss with each other as to which piece will fit where and take turns to do the same. They encourage each other and share the joy of solving the puzzle together. All this teach them patience and enhance their social skills
- Self-esteem: Solving a puzzle boosts their self-confidence and gives them a sense of accomplishment even at this tender age. This, in turn, helps to take pride in overcoming the challenges involved in solving puzzles and gives a boost to their self-esteem and prepare them for challenges in life
Disadvantages Of Puzzles
Every coin has two sides. And even though puzzles are accepted worldwide to be one of the most effective educational tools, it certainly involves a lot of loopholes too:
- Some preschoolers get too engrossed in puzzles and leave all other important tasks just to get the solution
- It is an indoor game, and some children totally dread the idea of outdoor games once they start getting interested in puzzles
- Not being able to solve a puzzle might leave the child with the feeling of being insufficient and not-good-enough
- The inability to solve might lower child’s self confidence
Puzzles are indeed important in childhood development. They have been used since generations – your parents used them, you used them and now your children are using them. They are a great learning tool for your child so go ahead and provide them with the opportunity to learn to start from simple shapes to silhouettes, to jigsaw puzzles. Puzzles are a fun learning tool for young minds and prepare the little ones very early in life to face the challenges in life.