Puzzles have always been a fascinating play for children and adults alike. Puzzles are an excellent opportunity to exercise our minds. They open up a wide array of opportunities to enhance our creativity, sharpen our strategic thinking capabilities and set our brain to work.
Puzzles are the key to unlocking the hidden potential in children and significantly influence their mental skills such as perception, recall, analysis, concentration and observation. Puzzle plays provide children with a goal and stimulate the senses to achieve the same.
As toddlers, knobbed puzzles of different fun shapes of brilliant colours fitting into cutout boards are a fascination while jigsaw puzzles of varying complexities for different age groups are the next. 3-D puzzles available in the form of pieces joined together to form erect objects or object with moving parts like a Rubik’s cube, puzzles are fun.
Children are curious explorers. They flip, move, toss the pieces of the puzzle and imagine how the puzzle needs to look. Puzzles inculcate the hand-eye coordination by helping in developing the relationship between what the eyes see, and the hands do. Further, the gathered information is processed by the brain to manipulate the pieces and fit them right to form a final picture.
Larger puzzle pieces, stacking puzzle games help improve gross motor skills, unlike smaller pieces which bring precision in movement promoting fine motor skills. Children need to pick up; grasp and grab puzzle pieces which enhance fine motor skills, thereby developing good handwriting skills and grasps.
In young children, the first puzzles are shapes –circles, triangles, squares, rectangles which facilitate shape recognition. Further, simple puzzles facilitate exploration of the surrounding. Complex jigsaw puzzles boost memory and recall. Children have to gather pieces of the puzzles and need to recall the image of the puzzle to fit in the right piece.
Puzzles promote critical thinking while the child decides the right fit for the puzzle pieces. The child has to assess which part fits where. It either matches or doesn’t, there is no other option and cannot afford to cheat to complete the puzzle. The child develops a new outlook for problem-solving, reasoning skills and critical thinking. All of these approaches help in the development of cognitive abilities.
Puzzles develop patience and completion of the puzzle rewards children with a sense of achievement and pride. They also help to build self-confidence and prepares them for the larger challenges in life.
All in all, puzzles foster physical, cognitive and emotional skills in children, which boost their overall development.