Remember playing puzzles when you were a kid? Or even a teenager? Some of us are enjoying puzzles well into our adulthood. It is a simple activity that provides excellent benefits for toddlers’ development and you will be amazed when you learn them all.
There are many benefits of puzzles for toddlers and other children including building concentration levels, spatial awareness, shape recognition, teaching problem solving skills, improving memory and even developing fine motor skills. Puzzles require good finger dexterity and critical thinking skills but they are also a great activity to bond with your child over. Working together to solve the puzzle is a great way to encourage teamwork and build social skills.
Puzzles are a child’s best friend. Easy to understand, and the benefits for child development are genuinely astounding. Parent, child bonding time is critical, and proper brain development at a young age is just as essential. We all want to raise well balanced children that have the foundations necessary to conquer the world. Puzzle play provides an opportunity for both of these important aspects of early development.
Are you a parent, guardian or educator who wants to nurture a child’s developing mind? The Whole Brain Child is an amazing resource that I believe all educators, students and parents can benefit from reading.
- 1 The Benefits of Puzzles for Toddlers Development
- 2 How to Get Toddlers Interested in Puzzles
- 3 Different Types of Puzzles for Toddlers
The Benefits of Puzzles for Toddlers Development
Little toddler fingers, crunching everything they touch, making most activities last only a few minutes. Do you know what I mean? Especially, if you have already had the benefit of introducing puzzles to your toddler, you know how hard it is to resist placing that piece in the right space.
Or ‘saving’ the puzzle piece from total destruction. Well, some puzzles are made to withstand the curious play of toddlers. Even these seemingly simple puzzles have exceptional benefits to a toddler’s early development, so let’s take a look at some of them now.
I thought my toddler was the only one with a thirty second attention span until I found that it’s a common trait of toddlers. According to the experts, our children can concentrate for 3 – 5 minutes, multiplied by their age. That means that a two year old has the capacity to focus for six minutes at a time. Shocking, I know!
Well, the trick here is that toddlers need to practice this ability. Which means they need exercises to harness the skill of focusing. This is where the importance of puzzles for the brain comes into play. The more they do the activity, the more the focus skill is practised, and the longer they’ll sit down to an activity.
If you want some other ways to encourage kids concentration – try some of these great games that you can all play as a family.
Spatial awareness is something we’ve all had to learn but we usually take for granted. Spatial awareness is the understanding of your body in relation to other objects around you. So, your toddler is learning where he/she fits into this whole big, wide world. Puzzle play makes learning and understanding spatial awareness even more powerful when you use words like “Move that piece left, turn it on its face, place it on top” and so on.
Puzzle play teaches children from the perspective of the piece that they’re busy with. At the same time, they’re learning to ‘put things in place’, and that everything has its place.
Before your little one can learn their alphabet or even begin on words, they need to understand shapes. Squares and rectangles are often mistaken for one another, and this is normal.
You should encourage them to distinguish correctly between the shapes, though. It is more important to call a sphere a sphere and not merely call it a circle. This allows for faster understanding and development in the brain. Puzzles with shapes such as triangles, squares, and circles are excellent for shape recognition.
The benefits of puzzles for toddlers include helping them to develop problem solving skills and critical thinking. All sorts of fun strategy planning skills are possible with puzzle play.
For example, let your toddler throw out all the pieces and then turn them all ‘face up.’ Another fun way to strengthen their problem solving abilities is to sort all the pieces by colour or edge pieces and middle pieces.
Fine Motor Skills
Sometimes called the pincer grasp, or pincer grip is when toddlers grab anything they get their hands on between their thumb and fingers. This grip is especially important when they begin to hold a pencil or crayon for the first time.
Puzzle play allows this pincer grasp to be strengthened, which enhances the coordination of the small muscles in their fingers and hands.
Memory recall, for both short and long term memory, is enhanced by puzzle play. A child who plays with the same puzzle over and over will begin remembering where the pieces go correctly.
This practice strengthens their memory recall. If you want to add an extra level to your puzzle then after they have completed the puzzle ask them to close their eyes and see how many specifics they can remember, like “What colour was the duck?”
Are you a parent, student or educator trying to get your kids to listen? How to Talk so Kids Will Listen and Listen so Kids Will Talk is a great resource to help you communicate better.
How to Get Toddlers Interested in Puzzles
Starting with easy puzzles for toddlers is your best bet for getting them interested. The more strenuous the activity, the harder it will be for them, and they will quickly lose interest or be discouraged. Keep them interested with brightly coloured puzzles.
Bigger puzzles also keep attention spans for longer, and the more fun you seem to be having, the more they will want to engage in the activity.
Another way to keep them interested is to make puzzle play a regular activity. Dedicate all your attention to this activity. Make some healthy snacks, build a small house in the lounge, and play puzzles with them under a cozy blanket house.
There are many ways to make it enjoyable, but you need to think like a toddler and use your imagination. A good rule of thumb is if it seems stupid to us, its usually the most fun for them.
It also helps that there are many different types of puzzles for toddlers, let’s take a look at them now.
Different Types of Puzzles for Toddlers
You know your toddler best. There is a world of different puzzles for toddlers, and some may not be right for your child, others may work so well that you end up having fun too. The best puzzles for toddlers, according to research, are the ones listed below:
Wooden Peg Puzzle
Wooden peg puzzles are brilliant for strengthening the pincer grasp as we mentioned before. The more they practise with these, the better they will adjust to holding a pencil or pen one day. The wooden peg puzzle seems silly, but the effects are long lasting and crucial to the development of your child.
Take a look at this great article full of the best toys for 3 year olds!
Big Floor Puzzles
Giant puzzles for toddlers are lovely for getting their whole bodies moving, and attention spans seem to be higher here. However, you need to remember to keep their focus on the puzzle and not on throwing the pieces all over the room. Big puzzles for toddlers allow them to understand their own spatial awareness as well as the bigger blocks. It is a lot of fun to engage in this activity with them as well.
Magnetic Puzzles for Toddlers
Magnetic puzzles come in all shapes and sizes. From letters to animals to anything really and they are great fun in using all over the house. The magnetic aspect is also quite wonderous to a toddler and can keep them interested for quite some time.
Alphabet Puzzles for Toddlers
Learning puzzles for toddlers are essential. You can start introducing these as early as you would like, as these puzzles will be stored in your toddler’s memory. These types of puzzles will help them a lot when they start learning all of their letters one day.