Puzzles come in many forms. There are the traditional jigsaw puzzles, 3-D puzzles, sliding block puzzles and matching puzzles. They can have anywhere from a few pieces to thousands of them.
Puzzles that are appropriate for a child’s age and developmental level provide a fun yet challenging learning experience. Puzzles for toddlers are very different from puzzles for school children. Here are some things to look for in puzzles for every age.
Babies and Toddlers
Babies and toddlers can learn a lot from the right kind of puzzle. Shape stackers are a good type of puzzle for babies because the pieces are easy for small hands to grasp. The wooden puzzles that have a board with pictures of the corresponding pieces allow a toddler to learn how to match objects. The pieces fit loosely, so they’re not too hard for small hands to put together. Foam jigsaw-type puzzles are also good for babies and toddlers.
Hand-eye coordination is another important thing that puzzles teach. It can be tricky for a little one to get the pieces where they belong at first, but after a few tries she will be delighted to see that she can do it.
Another benefit of toddler puzzles is that they can help teach the names of colors and shapes. You can help by pointing out the colors or shapes of the pieces that your child is matching. Some puzzles have pieces with letters, numbers or animals on them, and you can use those in the same way.
Puzzles for preschoolers may be a little more advanced. Jigsaw puzzles with a few large pieces are good for this age group. They are still developing fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination, so they are probably not ready for puzzles with small pieces yet.
At this age children can benefit tremendously from working together to solve puzzles. They might share strategies such as sorting pieces by color or searching for patterns. This aids in social development and communication skills as well as intellectual development.
Elementary schoolers can move on to more advanced jigsaw puzzles. The pieces can be smaller and the designs more complex. Children of this age can still benefit from the teamwork lessons learned by solving puzzles together.
Once she has become adept at putting together flat puzzles, your child might enjoy working on three-dimensional ones. These add new challenges and make nice bedroom décor when they’re finished. Many of them do not even require glue to stay together.
Puzzles are a fun way to learn important skills. They also provide a great opportunity for your child to work with you or other children toward a common goal. The educational benefits of puzzles are greater than those of many more complex and higher priced toys and they can be reinforced with each new puzzle your child completes.