Benefits of Puzzle Play
Puzzle play is one of the types of play that is beneficial for all ages, not just children! It can consist of anything from a baby putting two objects together to form a whole, to young children doing simple wooden puzzles, to older kids and adults working on complex jigsaw puzzles of all shapes and sizes!
In this article, we will focus on the benefits of puzzle play for young children, and how you as the caregiver can engage with your child in a way that promotes these benefits.
Some of the things children can learn from puzzle time are:
- Vocabulary that focuses on spatial and directional words.
- Problem-solving and the satisfaction of completing a task.
- Hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills.
- How to use proper sequencing to complete certain tasks.
Ways to Engage Your Child with Puzzles
- Use descriptive words.
Playing with puzzles provides a fantastic opportunity to use a lot of descriptive words. Words about the characters, pictures, and colors found on the puzzle itself are a wonderful place to start with younger kids!
ExploraToy’s African Wildlife and Farm Life puzzles provide lots of opportunities to talk about animals, sizes, shapes, and sounds while playing with your child. Other words that come up often in puzzle play are spatial and directional vocabulary. Words like “over, under, beside, turn, and flip” are examples of this type of vocabulary building.
- Provide age-appropriate options.
Puzzles come in all shapes, sizes, and materials! It is important to provide age-appropriate options that will challenge your child without simply leaving them frustrated. For babies just learning to put things together, puzzle play can be as simple as putting a lid on a cup!
As your child grows and begins to be able to grasp pegs and match shapes, peg puzzles are a great option to have around. Not only will your child be able to practice putting the puzzles together, but they will have the chance to practice letters, numbers, shapes, etc. while they play!
Once they have mastered peg puzzles, younger children can move on to simple jigsaw puzzles. After that, the sky is the limit with puzzle play!
- Utilize diverse types of puzzles.
Different types of puzzles can encourage various skills in your child. For instance, matching the pieces of a peg puzzle to their designated spots can help develop fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, while jigsaw puzzles can also develop problem-solving and pattern-finding skills.
Turning puzzles into games is another way to increase interest in puzzle play and develop specific skills. ExploraToy’s magnetic peg puzzles utilize a fun, unique approach to puzzle play for kids two and up and encourage creative thinking, fine motor development, and more!
- Allow your child to fail.
While it may be counter-intuitive, providing children with challenges that they will have to work hard at (and sometimes fail) to accomplish will encourage creative problem solving and greater satisfaction with task completion. While it is important to avoid too much ongoing frustration, age-appropriate challenges are what help kids develop resilience and determination!
Never be afraid to give your child a puzzle that seems just a little too advanced for their age. They might surprise you with their creative solutions to problems! If it is just too challenging or not developmentally appropriate, you can always put it away and come back to it later.
- Rotate through puzzles to keep things fresh.
Once a child has mastered a specific puzzle, try rotating it out of the playroom and replacing it with a similar one, or one that is slightly more advanced. If they begin to do the same puzzle over and over, they will no longer find it challenging and may get tired of puzzle play for a while.
If your child seems bored or frustrated with puzzle play, try taking a longer break from puzzles or consider making another type of puzzle available. In a few weeks, you will be able to put a few of the “old” puzzles back in rotation, and they will probably seem new again!
With just a few quality puzzles like the ones available from ExploraToy, you can set up a puzzle rotation that will keep your child engaged and learning through puzzle play as they grow! From simple peg puzzles to jigsaws, to magnetic puzzles, your toddler will benefit in many ways as you engage their minds and hands with puzzle play.
Remember to use lots of spatial vocabulary, encourage problem-solving and persistence by letting your child lead, and provide age-appropriate puzzles that challenge your child without causing too much ongoing frustration. The benefits of puzzle play are unique and numerous, and by utilizing a few of these tips, you can enhance those benefits for your child as you play together!