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Puzzles have been around for a loooooong time! I’m sure you, along with your parents and grandparents, have had your own great experiences with building puzzles of all types. Moving forward we’ll dive a little more into 13 amazing benefits from doing puzzles. (#9 may surprise you!)
Puzzles are a unique activity that span across all age groups, beginning at a very young age up until 99+. They can help babies in their early development, ease stress for working adults, and improve memory for the elderly. It is quite amazing to think that many of the benefits for babies are similar to those of the elderly!
13 Amazing Benefits from Doing Puzzles!
1. Shape Recognition
The shape of a puzzle piece is the part that makes the difference in a puzzle, wouldn’t you agree? The basic, overall purpose is to fit all the pieces together to create a masterpiece. Your kiddos, the young ones especially, are just learning to recognize shapes. For example, they are learning the differences between a circle, triangle, and square. This is a basic level of understanding that they can keep building their understanding of the world on.
The simplest puzzles often have a little knob your child can grab onto to take the piece out and put it back into the puzzle. These puzzles have specific spots that your kiddo can fit each puzzle piece into. As they get older, the puzzles get harder. There are more pieces and eventually there is no border to fit the pieces into. They learn that the pieces with straight edges go along the outside of the puzzle. (Some may say that’s where the real fun begins;))
How does this benefit them? As your baby grows and figures out that these three lines make a triangle, a specific shape, it helps get them ready to learn about letters and numbers. Pretty important things!
Does your child have a short attention span? If so, that is super common! With so much happening around them, our kids are bound to move from activity to activity, not wanting to miss out on anything. It can be extra hard for them to concentrate- to sit and focus on one task for a longer amount of time.
This is where puzzles come in! It takes a good amount of brain power to figure out a puzzle. For the young kiddos, they are focused on getting the piece to fit into the right spot. As your child gets older, the amount of pieces/challenge level of the puzzles goes up. At each level, they have to focus to remember how things fit together. Have I tried this piece here? What if I turn it this direction? What picture am I trying to make with these pieces? They want to figure it out and see the completed puzzle, so they tend to keep working at it.
As you choose a puzzle, make sure it is appropriate for their age. The little ones usually do best with a puzzle that has the knobs and few pieces. As they get older, they can handle more pieces and more challenging pictures. They are more likely to lose interest or get frustrated If they get something that is too easy or too hard.
3. Hand-Eye Coordination
Putting a puzzle together requires a bit of twisting, turning, and flipping. I’m not talking about you dancing across the room with flips and swirls (though you can do that too, if you’d like!) I’m talking about the moment you dump the pieces out and sort them to begin putting a puzzle together.
Toddlers, at least in my experience, like to take a puzzle and dump it-usually over their head. The pieces are now scattered on the ground around them. They now need to figure out how to flip each piece so it is facing up and the twist and turn them about to fit into each spot in the puzzle.
This is a pretty big deal when looking at their development. Like a child catching/throwing a ball, their brain is connecting that the puzzle piece in their hand needs to turn this way and that to fit into that specific spot on the puzzle. Their little eyes look at the puzzle and they find which piece fits and they eventually get it to the right spot.
4. Problem Solving
We can never have too much practice with problem-solving! That is one thing we can be sure will come our kiddos way, problems that need to be solved. Our days are full of problems, some are bigger than others. As adults, we have learned how to solve many of them quickly, to where they really don’t disrupt our day. We want to help our kids learn this important skill.
The puzzle pieces are dumped onto the floor and are now sitting in a jumbled pile. Let the solving begin! Help your child start with a simple task, such as flipping all the pieces over so they face up. Next move onto something like separating pieces that have straight edges and those that don’t. Then sort the pieces into colors or objects. For example, if there is a bicycle in the picture, you can gather all the pieces that have a part of the bike.
This will help them break things down into “bite-sized” chunks, rather than leaving them feeling overwhelmed not knowing how to begin. As they keep going on the puzzle, they will solve the mini problems of how each piece fits together.
Are you interested in other activities that can help build problem-solving skills? Try these STEM projects that come in subscription boxes!
Kids have a lot to remember in their young lives. Their brains are constantly going, making connections, and learning about things all the time. Doing a puzzle can help them get even better at it!
Picture your child working on a puzzle. After he has started putting pieces together, he remembers a spot of blue that matches the piece in his hand. He then reaches over and picks up the piece and links them together. As time goes on and he does this same puzzle over and over again, he’ll begin to remember which pieces fit together and where they belong in the puzzle. He may be able to see the end picture in his head and eventually not even need to look at the box to create it!
How long a puzzle takes to complete will depend on the number of pieces and how hard it is for your child. There is an old saying that says something along the lines of “stick to your task until it sticks to you.” Basically we want our kids to be able to stick to it, to be able to start AND finish each puzzle, especially when they are hard.
Learning how to keep going with something until you are done will be a skill your kids will use throughout their lives. Persevering, pushing forward, is a tough thing sometimes, but it can help prepare them for hard things to come! We’d never get very far if everything in life came easy to us. This is a safe and fun way to practice perseverance.
Kids are always on the go and patience isn’t usually at the top of their priority list! Picture the last time your kiddo got upset because their chicken nuggets weren’t cooled enough to eat, they were hungry and wanted to eat right away (or maybe that’s just mine?!).
Working on a puzzle can strengthen this skill because they learn patience while fitting things together, piece by piece and start to recognize that it takes time to figure it all out. They really want to see what it looks like when it’s all done, so they keep going past their usual tolerance level. It teaches the idea that some things take time, but they are worth it!
“Can’t we all just get along?” This is likely something you have asked your kids or at least asked yourself while watching your kids. Learning to share and work together with others may come naturally to some people, but to most it is something we must be taught!
Working on a puzzle with others can do just that, teach your kids how to work well with others. They can practice and learn to coordinate who is looking for the pieces with green on them or who is going to work on finding the pieces with straight edges.
It is also a great way to practice taking turns. One child can fit a piece or two into the puzzle, then slide over and let the other link a few pieces.
You can turn the puzzle building activity into a lesson at the same time! Take a few pieces of the puzzle away and let your child finish putting it together. Wait until they notice there are missing pieces. “Where are these pieces?” “There are holes in the puzzle!” Point out the difference it makes to have even just a few pieces missing in the puzzle. Do we need all of them? Yes! Now connect it to working together with their siblings or friends. Is it important that everyone does their part? Yes! When we all work together on something, the end result will be even better!
9. Finger Strength
This is probably not the first thing that comes to mind when you think about reasons to do a puzzle. But it is an important reason! When our kids are really little, we celebrate each small feat they overcome. When they first learn to smile, roll over, sit up, etc. As they grow, they continue to learn like crazy.
One thing we don’t always pay close attention to is their ability to grasp an object using their fingers. Many kids figure it out as they play with toys and other objects, but for some it can be a bit trickier. Puzzle pieces can offer another way for them to practice picking up, turning over, and moving things around. As adults, we do this without a second thought, but it can be a very helpful skill for our little people. Who knew how important is was to give your fingers a work out as well?!
This one is closely related to teamwork. Usually when we work with other people we have to talk to them. *gasp* What?! Working with your child on a puzzle or letting them put one together with other adults or children will give a safe place for them to talk. Especially if your kiddo is on the shy side.
Having a smaller group (like 2 of you:)) and working on something together can take the pressure off of coming up with things to talk about. The puzzle will be the focus for the activity and conversation. You’ll find your kids talking about which pieces belong where or asking questions about how things fit together. They may talk about what they are starting to see in the picture as they fit the pieces together.
11. Boost Self-Esteem
“I did it!” One phrase we will never get tired of hearing! It is so rewarding for your kids to do something and be successful at it. Sometimes it’s as simple as learning to tie their own shoes (parents sure love that day as well!). What a sense of satisfaction as they figure out how to finish a puzzle and get to place that last piece that completes it. Whew! Made it!
It can be a great boost to their self-esteem as they realize they can learn new things and do hard things. They’ll have no idea about the great learning that is happening all while putting a puzzle together!
12. Educational Opportunities
We learn in so many ways. Mixing things up can be a fun way to keep learning and keep things exciting! There are puzzles out there for just about everything. Do you want to help your child practice the alphabet letters? There’s a puzzle for that. Is your elementary student learning about continents? There’s a puzzle for that. Are you preparing to go on a trip to Disneyland? There’s a puzzle for that. (At least for the fun characters and stories you might find there!)
Enjoy all of these benefits of puzzles AND focus on a specific concept or idea. Our young babies learn to grasp and move things with their first puzzles up to our elderly keeping their minds focused and strong as they move the pieces around. Lots of awesome things!
13. Spatial Awareness
Spatial awareness sounds kind of technical, but it is basically your child’s ability to understand where they are compared to other objects or where other objects are compared to each other.
Say what? Imagine your child walking towards a toy. Having ‘spatial awareness’ helps them understand that the toy is getting closer to their body as they walk closer to it.
With a puzzle, your kiddo will need to figure out which piece goes where and then flip and turn it to fit into the correct spot.
Wrapping It Up
Well, there you have it! 13 excuses, I mean benefits:), to do a puzzle. Did you know there were so many great reasons to doing puzzles? Are you heading to your closet to pull a puzzle out yet? No better time to start then now! These benefits aren’t limited to kids, adults can definitely take advantage of them as well! Talk about a great family activity;) Happy building!