Tuesday, February 13, 2018

Jigsaw Puzzles | Great Mental Developmental Tools For Children ♥

Jigsaw puzzles are wonderful mental development tools for children. There are few, if any, learning tools which are capable of training children with a wide range of cognitive and emotional skills with so little effort. Parents should consider exposing their children to jigsaw puzzles at the earliest opportunity. Obviously, their offspring must attain a sufficient level of motor and cognitive skills first before being handed a starter jigsaw pack. 

My eldest boy, Tyler, is really into jigsaw puzzles at the moment and he can spend hours doing them. He feels a really sense of achievement when he finishes one and calls me over to show me the finished product. I think it's great that he's spending time doing something that challenges him and both he and I are proud of his jigsaw solving efforts.

Some of you may be wondering why jigsaw puzzle games are rated so highly by educators and pediatricians alike. Let’s take a closer look.

•Understanding the World We Live In

Children interpret the world a little differently from adults. In fact, many of the things we take for granted, such as gravity, time or even plant life, are all alien concepts to children. They will eventually integrate the world into their reality in a gradual manner. Jigsaw puzzles, especially 3D jigsaw puzzles, provide the brain with a sandbox to manipulate and change the structure and appearance of specific environments, which will help them to replicate the process in the real world.

• Shape Recognition

Can you identify or tell the difference between a dodecahedron and icosahedron? Don’t be embarrassed, most of us can’t. In fact, at one time, when we were toddlers, we had a great deal of trouble identifying and distinguishing between simple two dimensional shapes like squares and circles. Over time, our brain slowly established recognition parameters of various shapes. Exposure to jigsaw puzzles will heighten the pace of such a process.

• Hand-Eye Coordination

Don’t we sometimes marvel at the dexterity and coordination of Sushi Chefs? What about Roger Federer’s footwork? Or Steven Gerrard’s uncanny ability to hit fast moving balls with precision? These are all instances of superb hand-eye coordination (among other skills). Similarly, the development of these skills will allow children to identify and envision the location of puzzle pieces and their correct locations.

• Memory

16-piece jigsaw puzzles are challenging for toddlers, while five-year-olds may find 100-piece puzzles daunting. Ten-year-olds, on the other hand, may find the thought of 1000 piece jigsaw puzzles intimidating. These are all caused chiefly by their memory limitation. Mastering puzzles with gradually rising difficulty levels will hasten the growth of their memory’s capacity.

• Fine Motor Skills

Unlike gross motor skills which regulate skills such as walking and running, fine motor skills are developed through repetition and conditioning. The dexterity achieved from solving jigsaw puzzles actually contributes to activities such as handwriting and using knives.

• Reasoning and Problem Solving Skills

As children attempt to complete the jigsaw puzzles, they will inevitably make a lot of errors. They will also gradually learn the skills of identifying correct puzzle pieces, eliminating wrong ones, grouping similar coloured pieces together, recognising edge and border puzzles, etc. These are reasoning and problem solving skills – skills that are repeatedly used and refined. This will obviously increase the pace of their mental development.

• Discipline and Goal Setting

When children work on puzzles, some will give up quickly while others will persist. The latter group has clearly developed a stronger character, and has subconsciously learned the arts of discipline and goal setting.

Children’s mental development does not happen by accident or in isolation. There are triggers and specific exercises which can accelerate the pace – and jigsaw puzzles are clearly one of them.

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