Why Jigsaw Puzzles are Great for Kids
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Working on jigsaw puzzles should be fun, not a chore – so keep these 7 tips in mind!
- Choose a puzzle image that is interesting to your child.
- There is no right way or wrong way to start.
- Work together with your child.
- Or let your child work independently.
- Keep the box image nearby.
- Take brain-refreshing breaks.
- Praise your child’s accomplishments along the way.
From first wooden puzzles to complex 1000-piece efforts, jigsaw puzzles are loved by kids of all ages! They’re a great way to pass the time and they also pack a powerful educational punch for kids.
Jigsaw puzzles are more than just fun; they can help your child develop many physical and mental skills, such as helping to improve hand-eye coordination, fine motor skills, problem-solving and memory.
What do children learn from completing jigsaw puzzles?
One of the best ways to stimulate brain development and reinforce valuable cognitive skills is by doing puzzles with your child beginning at a young age. From birth to the age of three, a child’s brain develops at a faster rate than at any other point in their life. This is the time children start learning crucial cognitive skills like paying attention, reasoning, remembering things they have learned and experienced, and motor skills.
Whether they are just starting out with puzzles or are older and more skilled, be sure to give kids the chance to solve puzzles independently. When children are faced with a problem or challenge during play, their reasoning and judgment are tested, and they are more motivated to find a solution. Help them along with their puzzle as needed, so they can see it through to the end, since this is another important element of cognitive strengthening and helps sharpen their planning skills and attention spans.
Which jigsaw puzzles are “good” puzzles?
A “good” puzzle is one that matches your child’s interests. Do they have a favorite animal, subject, or type of entertainment? Puzzles based on subjects and characters they are interested in will get them excited about taking on a new challenge and seeing the puzzle through to completion.
Equally important is to find a puzzle that is appropriate for your child’s age. If it is too easy, they might become bored, and if it is too challenging, it will be frustrating for them and may discourage them from trying a puzzle again in the future.
How should you choose the right sort of jigsaw for their child’s age and stage of development?
Check the age-grading on the puzzle’s box or in the online description. These guidelines are very helpful, not just when selecting puzzles, but when picking out any toy for your child. The age-grading on a toy, game, or puzzle is based on the specific features of the product and the developmental abilities of children at a given age.
Are there any “rules” to follow when doing a puzzle, such as starting with the edges?
Working together with your child on a puzzle is a great way to foster a love for learning and mastering puzzles. Some children may not that interested in doing puzzles on their own, but when doing them with others, they may feel more motivated and the fun will increase. Remember to point out how satisfying it is each time you successfully put in a new piece and get closer to completion!
Make sure to keep the puzzle box close by to study the picture on the box, and then group together similar-looking pieces (by color or design). As for whether you should start with the edges and work your way in – that really depends on how your brain works. Your child may prefer to begin on an area of the picture that attracts her and will build out from there. There really is no wrong way to do it, so follow their lead when working together.
What can you do if your child gets frustrated when doing a jigsaw puzzle?
You might want to give them a hint by telling them what sort of piece to look for (either by shape, color, or pattern). If they are really getting frustrated and look ready to give up, you can help them along. Of course, seeing the project through to completion is important, but you also want to keep things light. Don’t lose your patience and be sure to offer lots of encouragement and praise when they match a new piece. After all, a puzzle is supposed to be a fun challenge and a confidence-boosting activity, in addition to being highly beneficial to brain development.
How can your child benefit from doing jigsaws collaboratively, with a parent, sibling, or friend?
While doing a puzzle on its own offers so many cognitive benefits, working together as a team builds important social skills. Interacting with a parent, sibling, or friend while working on a puzzle encourages discussion about the different parts of the puzzle and builds camaraderie through play. According to The Genius of Play, cooperative play helps kids hone their social skills as they negotiate group dynamics and is an important stepping-stone to ultimately understanding the roles and rules of society.
Visit TheGeniusofPlay.org to learn more about the many benefits of different types of play and to get some fantastic play ideas.