It was during my preschooler’s scheduled Individual Assessment last October that I considered buying puzzles for my girls. My two-year old is not fond of it (yet) although there are instances when she wants to try but my almost four-year old loved the puzzles. Since then, I include puzzle activity in our routine.
Last year, my sister got this for my girls. I looked at it as a tool to help my eldest read and spell simple words in preparation for school. However, I failed to realize that it could be a good puzzle activity. So it took me less than a year (and had to realize the benefits of puzzles during the assessment) before I bought puzzles.
Then I started with two- to five-piece puzzles. My eldest daughter solved it easily and relied on the pictures (and her imagination?) to be able to form the pictures. I bought her another set of puzzles; but this time, six to nine puzzle pieces. She was a bit impatient because it was more challenging and took her time to finish one puzzle. With push, encouragement, and a little help, she was able to finish one picture. After that, solving the rest of the pictures is easy for her. One of the giveaways during her Pumpkin Patch Halloween Party was puzzles. I was surprised to see how she was able to finish solving the puzzle in a few minutes, which was a proud mommy moment. I decided to challenge her and bought this 48-piece Mickey Mouse puzzles. Ideally, the puzzles are recommended for seven year old kids. Because I want to test her and I miss doing puzzles too, solving the Mickey Mouse puzzles has become a bonding activity for us. She can’t do it on her own yet but I’m happy to see my daughter form pictures and look for pieces that go together.
Many experts say that puzzles are good for a child’s mind and cognitive development. That’s true. After weeks of doing puzzles, I realized that puzzle activities come with the following benefits: Puzzle Benefit No. 1: It enhances a child’s problem-solving skills.
The first time I gave my eldest daughter her puzzles, I told her to look at the picture she needs to form then look at the corresponding pieces. Naturally, she wouldn’t listen and do it her own way, which I just let her. It ,may be a trial-and-error but in the end, she was able to solve it. Playing with puzzles helps develop a child’s ability to solve problems. To be able to solve a puzzle, a child has to figure out techniques and look for puzzle pieces that fit together. S/he learns to develop solutions for a given problem or situation, which can be carried over as s/he grows up.
Puzzle Benefit No. 2: It teaches a child how to be patient.
My eldest is “I want it, I get it – instantly” type of kid. When she started solving more complicated puzzles, she got impatient because she couldn’t get it the first time and even started throwing the puzzle pieces. Eventually, she managed her “temper” and just solved the puzzles without throwing any piece. I guess she realized that throwing them away won’t help her solve anything.
Puzzle Benefit No. 3: It aids in developing fine motor skills. Fine motor skills refer to small movements of the hands, finger, and wrists such as picking up a small objects. Playing with puzzles enhances a child’s fine motor skills since it involves picking up and grasping pieces. When enhanced, these fine motor skills could pave way to activities such as writing.
Yes, it also develops hand-eye coordination as well since kids flip, remove or turn pieces.
Puzzle Benefit No. 4: It enhance a child’s memory.
One of the benefits I noticed was memory recall. Once she finished a puzzle, she could recall which pieces go together. My daughter would even tell me that a certain piece should go “here” and “there.” This is because when a child plays with puzzles, s/he is able to activate the memory button to remember how the puzzle should look like. This is something beneficial, especially when the child is growing up.
Puzzle Benefit No. 5: It gives a child a sense of fulfillment.
I will never forget that face when my eldest completed her first set of two- to five-piece puzzles. There was joy and pride in her eyes, as if she found a cure for cancer. She was proud of her work and insisted that I take a picture of the puzzles she formed.
Puzzle activities, especially after completing one, gives a child a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment. This also gives a boost on a child’s self-esteem and self-confidence. Puzzle Benefit No. 6: It is a good bonding activity.
I do my best to minimize my kids’ TV and iPad time. As much as possible, I encourage them to play and move around rather than sit and watch.
Playing puzzles became a bonding activity for me and my girls, especially when doing the Mickey Mouse puzzles. At the same time, this activity teaches the kids the importance of “cooperative play” since they won’t be doing everything all by themselves, right?
How about you mommas? Do you let your kids play with puzzles? What are your observations?