Puzzles have long been a favorite toy for young kids. They are made of different things and have different levels of difficulty. Even babies can play with simple puzzles with two pieces that fit together.
As kids get older, puzzles can get more difficult to keep them interested. So other parents make their own photo puzzles or custom puzzles that will fit their kids’ age and knowledge.
But do you know that apart from being a game for children, it also significantly improves their cognitive skills? Let’s find out in this article why playing puzzles is one of the best games children should play.
What Does Cognitive Development Mean?
Cognitive development in children refers to the maturation of mental processes like perception, language, focus, memory, choice, and learning. Brain development in toddlers entails extensive investigating, contemplating, and figuring out how things work in relation to the environment.
Cognitive development in toddlers is fostered through early exposure to music, play with personalized photo puzzles, and adult conversation or reading.
Cognitive Skills: What Do They Mean?
Your toddler’s brain is developing at lightning speed, making this an ideal learning opportunity. Your toddler’s cognitive abilities are the mental processes and habits that enable him or her to understand and interact with the world. Your toddler’s cognitive development skills also determine his or her learning style.
Toddlers’ cognitive abilities allow them to absorb information and file it away for future use. Then, when it’s time to apply that knowledge, their brains can pull it up and help them pay attention, think, read, analyze, evaluate, compare, problem-solve, and understand cause and effect.
Custom Puzzles Enhance Toddlers’ Cognitive Development
If ever you don’t like the designs from the traditional jigsaw puzzles, you can make your own puzzle that depends on your child’s learning capabilities. Since the picture of the puzzle depends on you, it will be interesting for your child to complete it. For example, a picture of the child or your family is in the puzzle, it will give your toddler more excitement to play with it.
A child’s cognitive development includes:
- Their capacity for working memory.
- Focused attention.
- The ability to process and respond to the information and experiences they encounter daily.
When a child continues to play custom photo puzzles, they can develop their cognitive skills such as problem-solving, understanding of cause-and-effect relationships, understanding of part-and-whole relationships, naming and classifying, sorting, and organizing. This includes determining the correct placement and pairing of items.
Playing custom photo puzzles is fantastic for kids’ brain growth because they require the player to use visual memory (of shapes, colors, and the overall picture), contextual knowledge, and problem-solving skills to assemble the picture.
The Importance Of Puzzles For Toddlers’ Cognitive Development
Puzzle play is a great way to develop cognitive and fine motor skills. Still, it can also be used to develop social, emotional, and language skills if used thoughtfully by caregivers.
Here are six things toddlers learn from playing with puzzles:
Putting customized puzzles together is a great way to teach kids to think critically and solve problems. They may have to learn to set aside the piece of the puzzle temporarily they hope to use to find the one that will fit in the required space.
As they continue to work on the same puzzle, they may notice that there are different ways to solve it. When solving a puzzle with friends, they discuss their methods and figure out how to overcome obstacles together.
2. Fine Motor & Hand-Eye Coordination
Children improve their fine motor and hand-eye coordination by manipulating puzzle pieces to assemble a puzzle. They develop the hand muscles necessary to grasp and manipulate puzzle pieces precisely, placing each piece in its place, and more.
3. Task Completion & Persistence
The process of assembling a puzzle concludes when the puzzle is completed. When children are unable to easily solve a puzzle, they experience frustration, and when they overcome these emotions, they enjoy the satisfaction of task completion. Working through these emotions helps children develop persistence, or the capacity to persevere despite obstacles.
4. Spatial Vocabulary
When teaching kids how to assemble puzzles, explain how to turn, flip, and rotate the pieces. When describing where one puzzle piece is in relation to another, kids pick up on spatial vocabulary like above, below, and besides.
Some puzzles require a specific order of assembly of the pieces. Ordinal numbers and words, such as first, second, third, and last, are frequently used and taught to children to help them understand their place in a given sequence. Children’s understanding of sequencing can be enhanced by having them recount the steps they took to assemble the puzzle.
6. Enhanced Memory & Attention Span
Short-term memory is improved by doing Jigsaw puzzles because they reinforce existing connections between brain cells. As a result, children develop perseverance and patience while learning to focus for long hours.
A study also says playing jigsaw puzzles may reduce the risk of developing mental illness, memory loss, and dementia. Easy-to-grasp puzzles with knobs may appeal to older infants and young toddlers.
First, children may succeed with puzzles in which a single piece represents each image. For instance, a puzzle depicting animals may contain cat, dog, and bird pieces that each fit in their respective slots.
As toddlers and preschoolers gain proficiency, they may progress to custom photo puzzles or “tray puzzles” with multiple pieces that fit together to form a single image. As toddlers and preschoolers mature, they may develop a taste for jigsaw puzzles and more difficult photo puzzles.
Additionally, three-dimensional puzzles, such as stacking rings or nesting cups, test their skills and intelligence.
It is normal for children to explore things, because that age is the time when they learn from what they see or experience. If you are a responsible parent, you will make a way to focus on improving your child’s cognitive skills.
This article has explained that puzzles help develop toddlers’ cognitive skills if they play them, like improving their spatial vocabulary, sequencing, problem-solving, task persistence, hand-eye coordination, and attention span.
It is up to you to decide whether or not you will utilize puzzles to assist your child in honing his cognitive skills while he is still at a young age.