The Importance of Puzzles for Preschool Children

by Ruth Amick

From toddlers to adults, people love to solve puzzles. Puzzles are intriguing, the goal is clear and when you solve them, you get that sense of accomplishment that makes us all feel good about ourselves. Preschoolers can play with puzzles without even realizing how many skills they are developing.

Problem-solving Skills

In order to solve a puzzle of any kind, your child needs to stop and think about how to go about reaching her goal. When using a board puzzle, she develops a strategy on how she will try to place each piece in the correct space in order to make all of the pieces fit. She uses her problem-solving skills by developing solutions in order to accomplish completing her goal, just as she will use these skills during the course of her adult life.

Cognitive Skills

Puzzles can help a preschooler develop important cognitive skills. Your child will be asked to take step-by-step directions during his impending school career, and puzzles help him develop the ability to accomplish goals one step at a time and to understand why certain tasks need to be done in this manner. They can also help your preschooler develop visual spatial awareness because of the many colors, shapes and themes they come in.

Fine Motor Skills

Puzzles teach children to develop fine motor skills important to daily life. They learn to grasp large and small pieces, pick them up and to place them where they belong by manipulation. Some puzzles involve twisting knobs in order to be able to fit a piece into its slot. Others require your preschooler to hammer the piece into place. Some puzzles involve sliding a small door open or even untying a ribbon in order to find the correct placement of a piece.

Hand/Eye Coordination

Playing with puzzles requires your preschooler to manipulate the pieces in order to place them in the correct order, or slot. She sees a piece, picks it up and attempts to make it fit. If it doesn't, she puts that piece aside and starts the process over again until she has chosen the correct one. She learns to use her eyes to see an object, and her hands and fingers to pick it up, coordinating the two skills together.

Social Skills

Puzzles can be enjoyed as a solitary activity, but they also give a preschooler an opportunity to learn about cooperative play. Your child might share the puzzle with a partner, taking turns trying to solve it. He and his friend could discuss where a piece might belong, practice patience when are one of them is a bit slow about making a decision and learn how to control their tempers if things aren't going smoothly. He and his partner can share in the celebration of solving the puzzle successfully, as well.

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