Puzzles are great for adults and children alike, but when it comes to child development, it turns out that they are not just something fun to do on a rainy afternoon, they are also highly beneficial for a number of reasons. Whether it’s a toddler trying to find the right shaped block to fit in the correct hole, or teenagers playing computer games online, solving puzzles is an activity that needs to be encouraged and promoted. The best thing about puzzles is that they come in such a vast array of options, styles, and formats that you can choose the best style for your kids to play with, struggle over and eventually solve.
Why puzzles at all?
There are three key areas where puzzle solving becomes beneficial to the person participating. Those key areas are incredibly important for your child’s development, and you will see a marked difference in them if you are persistent in your encouragement. The most obvious ways that puzzle solving is great for your child are:
Hand to eye coordination is not something to be taken lightly, and developing this core skill is vital for your child. Fine motor skills, whether it’s a toddler learning to pick up and place the correct block or piece of felt, or selecting the correct corner piece of a jigsaw, are essential for every area of life, and developing these skills early gives your child a good start. Combined with the hand to eye coordination that is essential to utilize when playing with these kinds of puzzles, the skills acquired through repetition and explanation are vital for their futures.
Puzzles come in many shapes, sizes and formats. By playing with puzzles, no matter what style they might be, your child’s brain will be learning as well as practicing spatial awareness and logical thought. By following the rules of any puzzle, your child will learn the process of step-by-step thinking and depending on the type of puzzle could also be learning about numbers, letters or even Shakespeare as they do so. All children learn differently and at different speeds, but you can gain valuable insight into your child’s development by watching them learn to puzzle-solve and making sure that they seem to be improving their skills as they play.
Puzzles might be great when they’re done, but they can more than a little frustrating when you get a bit stuck. This is especially true if your child is not used to having to mentally struggle for their needs to be fulfilled. By teaching patience with the promise of a satisfying reward (such as a completed jigsaw), puzzles are excellent ways to track your child’s development in terms of exercising memory, spatial awareness and (depending on the puzzle type) problem solving and even speech ability as they articulate their feelings.
So what kind of games are the best for these teaching elements? The simple answer is that it comes down to the age of the child, but that there is no age limit to the benefits of puzzle-solving. Whether you’re talking about a five-year-old or a 95-year-old, puzzles can be useful for everyone. Here are the most fun and useful!
Extremely popular among all age groups, the humble jigsaw puzzle is popular simply because it offers so much. In terms of time and reward, the jigsaw puzzle is almost unparalleled, and due to its flexibility can be enjoyed by all ages. For the younger players, a jigsaw can be educational as well as developmental, as they learn about letters, numbers or even Father Christmas while they create the jigsaw image.
There are many kinds of games that provide a form of escapism. For instance, Escape Games allow your family unit to break out from a room by using your intelligence. Board games such as Clue and choose your own adventure books also all use puzzles as their base, and there is no doubting that solving a mystery with nothing but the vaguest of clues is deeply rewarding. For anything involving riddle-solving or even practical elements like opening a door using a hidden key, the mental benefits are rewarding no matter the age. By tailoring the mysteries to the age group, it’s possible to encourage the joy of puzzle solving so that it continues into old age.
There is a vast number of games available to play for free on the Internet and puzzle games are well represented. From solving chess problems to playing Hangman, right up to Sudoku puzzles and games that blur the line between puzzle and strategy, there is literally something for everyone to enjoy. No matter the age group or level of development, the Internet offers a never-ending supply of games for you and your child to experiment with. Some will be enjoyed more than others, and learning which is more useful while being fun is valuable information for any parent or caregiver.
As well as the key skills mentioned above, puzzle solving offers more social benefits as well. The satisfaction of completing or solving a puzzle after struggling with it is a massive boost to self-confidence and self-esteem. By overcoming the frustrations of a puzzle, your child will gain a very real sense of achievement that would never be reached by staring at the television all day. Solving a difficult puzzle can be a source of great pride no matter what age the puzzle-solver might be.
Finally, it is worth mentioning that puzzles need not be solitary activities. Not only is puzzle solving with friends and family a very good way of bonding and having fun, in terms of development for your child it can also be very good for teaching them social skills. Whether they are completing a jigsaw with their friends or practicing math problems for schools, puzzles can be useful with teaching a child cooperation, sharing and taking turns. These social skills will prove useful for the future, and time spent with your family simply playing with different types of puzzles is always going to be time well spent.