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Puzzles and Other Games and Their Cognitive Effects on Children's Development

by bob.g (follow)
Learning (34)      Development (14)      Playing (9)     
Children are not wasting time while they play, playtime actually helps them process the world around them and gain an understanding of life skills. One of the best play activities is playtime with puzzles. Puzzles can help children build cognitive skills that help them succeed later in life. Kids who puzzle, feel confident solving problems, have better memory and can communicate with the outside world in an effective way.

Image Attribution - Chiot’s Run via Flickr

Understanding Shapes

From an early age, children start to notice patterns in the world. Shape recognition is one of the most important lessons a child can obtain. Kids can begin understanding basic shapes, like circles, triangles and squares, through puzzles. More importantly, they learn the differences between shapes. As your child works through the various puzzles and continues to progress, you will see that their interaction and play will become progressive, this will then indicate that they are ready for a new challenge, namely the more advanced jigsaw puzzles. Shape recognition skills also help kids gain other sight-oriented skills like facial recognition abilities.

Understanding the World

We all have a basic understanding of the relationships we possess between “us” and “them”. Our understanding of the world also includes the ability to understand that we can change and manipulate some aspects of our world and not others. Puzzles can help kids obtain this basic understanding. Let’s say a child tries to place a circle puzzle piece into the square hole; he can physically manipulate the piece, yet he cannot change the basic fact that a square is a square. Puzzles are a great way for your kids to interact with the world because they cannot be “cheated”. There’s virtually no way for your child to force the square into the circular hole.

Image Attribution - Brad Montgomery via Flickr

Enhanced Memory

Memory plays a huge role in all our lives. We use memory for facial recognition, to get to appointments on time and to understand objects within the world. People who regularly practice memory activities by playing trivia games can improve their memories and prevent memory-related diseases, like Alzheimer’s. Children need to work on memory skills from an early age. This helps little ones to learn from their mistakes. When a child tries to place a square puzzle piece into a round hole, he begins to understand that doing so will not solve the puzzle. The more times the child fails, the closer he comes to remembering what won’t work to solve the puzzle.

Problem Solving Skills

Children need to be able to solve their own problems. Puzzles can help kids make mental connections in the world. When your child makes mistakes and learns from them, he or she can feel empowered to solve more problems. When the round square doesn’t fit in the circular hole, your child’s mind will start working to decipher why the piece doesn’t fit. Problems solving skills are simply the mind’s way of connecting memory and physical recognition skills. Your child begins to receive hands-on experience through puzzling. Your child will also have the ability to understand that things won’t always work on the first try. He or she will be empowered to make mistakes in order to arrive at the correct solution.

What Happens Without Playtime?

Studies show that when playtime is taken away from kids, their development may suffer. Kids who do not experience playtime often have behavioral problems, do not grasp mathematic problems, experience issues with physical development, do not grasp team building skills and don’t get the necessary “breaks” they need to let their creative juices flow.

Although puzzles might seem like a way for kids to “waste time” or take a quiet break, they can actually help kids learn the skills they’ll need in the real world. Puzzles can help kids learn cognitive skills, behavioral lessons and skills that they can take into adulthood.

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