Developmental skills are needed for school success. When parents think of activities that will support a child’s success in school, working on reading and writing often comes to mind. However, puzzles are a great for child development needed for school success. Puzzles come in many forms and offer many benefits for the brain and the body. They can be tailored to suit a child’s age, interests and abilities.
The following are some ways that puzzles can help with a child’s development:
Fine Motor Skills
The use of the small muscles of the hands is important for being able to hold pencils correctly for writing assignments.
Chunky puzzle pieces help to strengthen small hands by giving them enough surface area to grab. As a child gets older, the smaller puzzle pieces will help to refine the use of their fingers and allow them to pick up smaller objects.
Pegboard puzzles and geo-board puzzles encourage the use of a 3-point grasp. This is needed for an efficient pencil grasp in school. A child has to use the thumb and first 2 fingers to pick up the pegs or to stretch a rubber band for these puzzles.
For older children, completing word searches and mazes help to improve pencil control. Children will use the pencil to surf through a sea of letters to circle words or to navigate through the maze obstacles to get from beginning to end.
Placing letters on the writing line and completing school cutting tasks require a child to be able to make the hands and eyes work together. Reaching for a peg and correctly lining it up in the holes improves the brain’s ability to judge where to put the hands based on information from the eyes.
The ability to read and write are the foundations of being successful in school. Reading the clues of an escape room puzzle, for example, helps to work on understanding written language. Discussing the clues but asking questions and offering suggestions improves a child’s ability to work on expressing their ideas verbally.
Coming up with a plan to complete a school assignment is the same as coming up with a plan to complete a puzzle. The child has to figure out what they should do first, second and so forth. A child may figure out that putting together the border of a puzzle is an easier way to complete the puzzle versus putting together the center first. Another child may find that grouping the pieces by color is the most efficient way for them to organize the pieces.
In school there are many times when group work is required. It is important that a child can be a team player and work with others to complete a task.
Working together to solve the clues in a group setting helps to build team working skills. All of the team members have to work together to solve one clue before they can move onto the next. They have to learn to manage disagreements as to how to proceed with the clues given as well as what to do with the answers found.
Being able to ask for help when needed is a key component of advocating for oneself. When in school,if a child does not understand an assignment or is having difficulty with completing an assignment then the child needs to know when and how to ask for help.
Giving a child a puzzle that provides some challenge will give them the opportunity to figure out when they need help and then seek assistance.
There will be many times in school where a child will be asked to complete assignments that require the use of their imagination and creative skills.
Having children create their own puzzle encourages them to be creative. Using markers, glitters or paint on card stock, children can make their own picture and then cut it into pieces to make a puzzle. The possibilities are limitless for the types of materials that can be used and the types of puzzles that can be created.
Puzzles are an excellent way to help a child acquire and improve the skills needed for development and school success. There are many options available to help children of all ages and abilities.