Puzzle play requires problem-solving skills from start to finish. Children must select from an array of pieces of all shapes and sizes that will fit into an open space. This requires their perception and attention to determine what the piece should look like and the use of their reasoning and decision-making skills to select the best-suited piece. If the piece doesn’t fit they must problem solve and look for an alternate solution – rotating the piece to make it fit, or selecting a new piece!
And don’t forget – manipulating puzzle pieces requires fine motor skills and the result of a completed puzzle can be a great confidence boost!
Start with simple, age-appropriate puzzles e.g. peg puzzles, 4-piece puzzles, before progressing to more complex puzzles with many pieces – this will build confidence and inspire your child to take on new challenges.
Have a look and discuss the picture on the box showing the completed puzzle’s image to encourage attention to detail and planning.
Set small goals and enhance visual discrimination by sorting all the pieces into piles according to colours or shapes. E.g. Let’s put blue pieces that make up the sky in this pile, or, Let’s start by finding all the edge pieces.
Interactive play-time with traditional toys like puzzles have been associated with a higher number of words produced by parents and more conversation which supports language and speech development. Talk to your child about the process of choosing pieces, what to do if it isn’t the correct piece, and what is left to do to complete the puzzle as you go. Ask questions!