The satisfaction of putting the final piece of a puzzle into place is timeless. From children embarking on their first puzzles right up to adults working on their latest 5,000 piece project, puzzles are something that all the family can enjoy. But did you know, while children are playing with puzzles, there’s a range of skills that they’re developing – whether they’re aware of it or not!
Playing with puzzles has significant impacts on a child’s physical skills, developing fine motor skills through the coordination of small muscles. Children who have developed fine motor skills tend to find it easier to write, draw and learn to play instruments. Through grasping pieces and matching jigsaw pieces together, children also improve their spatial awareness and hand-eye coordination. This is the ability to coordinate what the eyes see with what the hands do and what the brain pictures, and can be helpful in several situations such as playing sport.
There are also lots of cognitive benefits that playing with puzzles can have for children too. One of those is that it allows children to develop their reasoning and decision making skills, both of which are valuable throughout their lives. The use of puzzles also helps children to become more confident and determined by seeing their persistence pay off, giving them a sense of achievement once the puzzle is complete. They encourage children to use their reasoning skills by weighing up which piece to put where and working out which piece to use next to help them get one step closer to completing their puzzle!
Playing with jigsaw puzzles also helps with the acquisition of knowledge through subliminal learning. Themed puzzles allow parents to make a selection of which puzzle will benefit their child the most in different areas for development. This might be learning shapes, colours, letters or numbers which can be beneficial in preparation for school. A 2009 study said ‘hands-on, playful learning experiences not only build interest in the subject but set off a preschoolers experiences in learning as positive, joy-filled ones which they will want to continue for years to come’ highlighting the importance of learning through play for young children.
Puzzles not only encourage independent learning and decision making but can also be used to promote social interaction. Parents or teacher might use puzzles as a focal point for discussion, or as a means for encouraging children to ask questions or use their observation skills. With our Look and Find puzzles, children complete both puzzles and then use them to learn about certain themes, be it colour, shape or number, and discuss them.
Ultimately, the most important thing is the fun involved in playing with puzzles! Children enjoy learning the most when they are having fun, and playing with puzzles that are engaging is just one example of ‘learning made fun’!
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