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Puzzles are favorite toys for children. They come in different sizes, shapes, types, materials and complexity.
These differences make them appropriate for a wide age bracket, from your 6-month-old little one, and even for adults.
But how exactly do age appropriate puzzles help kids?
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Increases the Concentration Span
Are you worried that your little one can barely concentrate on anything? Well, it’s time to get them some puzzles.
Age-appropriate puzzles (see our list of puzzles for 2 and 3 year olds) help increase your child’s concentration span.
Specialists in children development suggest that children have the ability to concentrate for about 2-5 times their age.
This means that if your little one is 2 years, they can concentrate on an activity for 4-10 minutes. If they’re 5 years, they can concentrate for 10-25 minutes.
If you notice your child has not met the criteria, get them some age-appropriate puzzles.
The ‘age-appropriateness’ factor ensures that the puzzles are not too complex that your child gives up nor are they too easy that they pose no challenge to your little one.
Better Fine Motor Skills
Wondering when your toddler will start doing their own buttons? Do they keep dropping the cup? You need to help them exercise their fine motor skills.
Fine motor skills are skills that help your child make movements on their fingers, hands, wrists and feet. They take time to develop.
Puzzles can help. As your little one turns, flips, slides and wiggles pieces of the puzzle into position, their fingers cultivate more small muscle control.
They learn how to grip on stuff, a skill that is useful in daily activities such as gripping on the toothbrush, pencil, paintbrush, etc.
Better Problem-Solving Skills
Have you observed little children building puzzles? You must have noticed how they pause and think hard.
Well, a puzzle is just a puzzle. It is confusing and needs to be solved.
Just like with construction toys, solving a puzzle could require matching different shapes, colors and patterns or using the trial and error method to put pieces into the right positions.
Solving age-appropriate puzzles helps children use their minds to figure out problems, handle difficulties and finally come up with a solution.
Improved Hand-Eye Coordination
You know what’s better about age-appropriate puzzles? They help your little one learn how to coordinate their eyes and hands when performing tasks.
Manipulating and moving the pieces of the puzzle requires them to coordinate the puzzle piece that the eyes see, and that which the hands hold. This way, the eyes and hands get to cooperate to place each piece in its right position.
Hand-eye coordination is useful for simple tasks such as tying a shoelace or catching a ball, and more complex tasks such as writing.
Develops Their Memory
Yes, I get it. You’re wondering “What’s the relationship between puzzles and memory?” Read on.
There is scientific evidence that dopamine levels increase when playing puzzles. Dopamine is the hormone that controls memory (as well as mood and concentration).
While solving a puzzle, your little one has to remember different colors, shapes, patterns and positions. This does wonders to their memory!
Putting pieces of puzzles together improves your child’s short-term memory (which is also good for you as a parent!)
Promotes Spatial Awareness
Spatial awareness has to do with being aware of the space around you, and how objects are positioned around us and around each other.
Playing with puzzles gives your little one an opportunity to assess how different puzzle pieces relate in terms of color, shape, pattern, etc.
At first, they employ trial and error, but with time, they are able to identify pieces that fit into each other in their heads prior to picking the actual piece. This is spatial awareness.
A recent study found that 2-4 year-olds who played with puzzles had better spatial perception skills than their peers.
Spatial awareness helps your child read and write by making them understand how different numbers and letters are positioned.
For instance, spatial awareness is employed to tell the difference between letters ‘d’ and ‘b’
Builds Persistence and Patience
You know what’s unique about puzzles?
You have to practice working through slowly until you attain the desired perfect fit.
There’s no short-cut to it.
Playing with puzzles teaches your little one that once they set a goal (to solve the puzzle), they must be patient and persistent until they reach the goal.
The effect is greater perseverance and persistence even when facing real life issues.
Isn’t this one of life’s greatest skills?