Puzzles are patience games that are very popular with children. In addition to being fun, this activity stimulates many aspects of their development.
The benefits of puzzles
When doing puzzles, the child develops:
- his concentration, because he must fix his attention on the task to be done;
- his patience, since he will not find where to place the coin at first;
- his perception of colors, shapes, and space;
- his eye-hand coordination when he grabs a coin directs it to the proper location and places it there;
- his ability to reflect when he observes the shape of each piece, because he makes connections with the places to receive the pieces;
- his memory when he remakes the same puzzle and tries to remember where the pieces were going;
- attention to detail, especially in preschoolers who make puzzles with smaller pieces;
- his confidence in him, because he feels a lot of pride when the puzzle is over, especially if he did it alone (or almost).
As with any toy, it is better to avoid falling into the trap of thinking that our child is ahead of others by choosing a puzzle too complex for him. This is the best way to make him hate this activity. If the puzzle is adapted to his abilities, the child will enjoy it. The activity may become more complex as it ages.
Before 2 years
At this age, the child tries, by trial and error, to associate a shape with the place that is intended for him. Puzzles in wood with parts with a small rod and independent of each other are preferred. The stems facilitate handling and the child must find the space where each piece fits.
Between 2 years and 3 years
The child is interested in puzzles with about 4 pieces that reproduce a simple image whose theme is familiar to the child (eg farm animals, zoo …). Parts should be large and thick to be easier to handle.
Around 3 years
The child no longer proceeds by trial and error. He rather observes the shape of each of the parts and each of the cavities to associate them correctly. He can probably do a puzzle of 6 to 10 pieces.
Around 4 years
Gradually, the cardboard puzzle replaces the puzzle of wood. In general, the child can do puzzles of 10 to 15 pieces, or more if he has done so for a long time.
A child’s ability to do puzzles does not only depend on his age, but also on the amount of time he has spent practicing it.
How to help your child?
In front of a puzzle, your child may be inclined to knock over all the pieces on the table. To help find where to put the pieces, use this simple method.
- Place the puzzle in front of your child.
- Encourage your child to take each piece of the puzzle and place them one by one on the table to see them.
- Invite your child to look at the shape and colors of the rooms and try to find where they are going.
- Suggest that your child touch the edges of the piece to be placed: is it straight, curved, pointed?
When your child easily makes puzzles that he already has, you can add small challenges to make the game more complex. To prolong the use of a recessed puzzle whose parts each represent an object in itself (eg car, dog, rabbit …), you can for example:
Invite your child to turn the pieces face to a table and ask him: “Does this piece represent the car or the plane? To succeed, he must recognize each piece from their inverted form;
Place the pieces of the puzzle in a container or in the sand. By manipulating each piece without seeing it, your child must identify what it is touching. Ask him, “What are you touching? The boat or the train? To increase the fun, participate in the game and try to guess what you are touching. It will be even more fun if mom or dad take the train to the car.