Puzzles have educational benefits on many levels. Even adults use puzzles to exercise their minds and challenge their thought process. So by introducing puzzles to your child at an early age, you can help improve key developmental skills.
We’ve listed a few things you might want to consider if you are in the market for a puzzle.
- Chunky Puzzles – great for small hands, generally few pieces so this is an ideal ‘first puzzle’.
- Block Puzzles – pieces easy to maneuver, also good for small hands.
- Peg Puzzles – improves fine motor skills as each piece has a ‘knob’ that your child will need to grasp to pick up the pieces.
- Floor Puzzles – larger images, great for games as children can work in teams.
- Sound Puzzles – placing a puzzle piece results in a sound related to that piece (for example – animal noise, name of letter/number and so on).
- Jigsaw Puzzles – more traditional style of puzzle, where unique pieces link or fit together, these can vary significantly in size and number of pieces.
Educational benefits of puzzles
- Fine motor skills – your child will need to pick up, grasp, move, manipulate, sort and fit pieces which will improve their fine motor skills.
- Hand eye co-ordination – finding the right spot for a puzzle piece requires a lot of trial and error. Your child will learn that if a puzzle piece doesn’t fit, they will need to reassess and find another spot for that piece.
- Memory & problem solving – Your child will learn to remember the pieces they came across previously that may fit, for example, there was a green corner piece that might be the grass, or a piece that looks like part of the sun.
- Social skills & descriptive language – If competing or working as a team, children can improve their social skills and descriptive language. Depending on the theme, type and texture of the puzzle, your child may ask for the ‘blue round piece’ or discuss why a piece belongs in that place.
- Patience and persistence – Puzzles are meant to challenge, and therefore won’t be easy all the time. Children can learn to organize their pieces, study the image being constructed and work on a strategy to achieve it. If a piece does not fit, they will try a different piece or a new position until they succeed.
Things to look out for when buying puzzles
- Age appropriate content – Is your child learning colors, numbers, the alphabet, animals, shapes, the solar system, or countries? There are so many themes to choose from, you are bound to find one that will challenge your preschooler!
- Size & number of pieces – Is your child ready for a delicate 25 piece puzzle? Are you prepared to pick up pieces from under the lounge for days? Look for sturdy pieces that fit together for younger children, and gradually increase complexity as your child gets older.
- Space – If you have your eye on a large floor puzzle, do you have enough floor space that might be occupied for a few hours (or maybe even days)?!
- Platform – Does the puzzle have a tray or backing that can be easily moved? If you have a half-finished puzzle on the dining table, you want to be able to relocate it until after dinner!
Educational Toys and Games Resources
Abacus – Everyone knows the abacus is an amazing mathematical tool. It’s even claimed the abacus is instrumental in giving kids a head start.
Tupperware Shape Sorter – There are very few educational toys out there like the Tupperware Shape Sorter. Your child can play with this toy from newborn through to pre-schooler and not only will it entertain your child throughout, but also teach them many things along the way.
Snakes and Ladders – A Snakes and Ladders board game is the perfect addition for any household with young children. Not only is the game fun but also highly educational.