Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Learning With Puzzles

We have been sick in our household for the last couple of days, so it was a perfect opportunity to bring out all our puzzles, get down on the floor and get busy. I find puzzles are an innovative way to learn certain skills, that are essential to toddlers before they enter school. The bright and attractive colours, and the uniquely shaped pieces, appeal to them, and are therefore useful and effective in ways that both, entertain and educate the little ones.

Puzzles help children learn to solve problems. By trying several ways to fit a puzzle piece in place, requires abstract thinking: the ability to see a space and envision what belongs there.Their fine motor skills are sharpened by manipulating the pieces and fitting them in their proper space. Putting together a puzzle helps children actively practice important skills such as inference, deductive reasoning, and the notion that whole objects are generally made up of parts.

Having puzzles for varied skill levels permits children at all stages of development to experience success.The home should have puzzles that vary in complexity, five-piece puzzles, as well as 12-piece puzzles, and puzzles made of different materials. You should also find puzzles that interlock and those that have individual slots for pieces (for example, a five-piece puzzle of five individual animals).

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 them. Another benefit of toddler puzzles is that they can help teach the names of colours 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.