Puzzles require your child to piece together objects in a logical way in order to come up with a specific shape, picture or solution. While attempting this task, your child will further develop hand-eye coordination, problem solving skills while being entertained. Puzzles range from those that are written to others that involve multiple pieces. Following details some of the variety available:
- Written Puzzles: These puzzles are those such as connect-the-dots, anagrams, spot the difference, Sudoku and crosswords. Most written puzzles require logic and in some cases, specific knowledge of a topic. Children’s puzzle books that may look similar to coloring books contain puzzles that can be reasonably completed by a child.
- Jigsaw Puzzles: These puzzles are those that require the assembly of numerous interlocking pieces. Dependant on your child’s age, these puzzles can be more difficult based on an increased number of pieces, unique shapes, and smaller size of pieces. For younger children, wooden jigsaw puzzles with larger pieces are the easiest to handle. As your child grows, you will find that most modern jigsaw puzzles are made out of cardboard. You can also find three-dimensional jigsaw puzzles – these are generally made of wood or Styrofoam and require that the puzzle be solved in a specific order.
- Mechanical Puzzles: Puzzles that are presented as a set of mechanically interlinked pieces are considered mechanical puzzles. Many of these puzzles require your child to learn the skill of trial and error. Following are a few examples of the wide variety of puzzles within this category:
- Assembly Puzzles: This category refers to those puzzles that are already provided in component form and the aim is to produce a certain shape.
- Disassembly Puzzles: Converse to the assembly, these are puzzles that are usually solved by opening or dividing them into pieces.
- Sequential Movement Puzzles: Common in this category is the Rubik’s Cube – these puzzles are those that required a repeated manipulation of the puzzle to get the puzzle to a certain condition.
- Disentanglement Puzzles: The goal of these puzzles is to separate a piece of metal or string loop from an object. Many times simple in appearance, these puzzles can be quite challenging. In purchasing these puzzles, keep in mind the age of the child as many times the pieces when pulled apart can be a choking hazard.
- Shape Sorting: Best for the youngest children (as young as one), these are puzzles that require a child to manipulate various shaped blocks and place them in the appropriately shaped slot. These will help them develop basic problem solving skills as well as hand-eye coordination.
Puzzles are an aide in skill development for young children as it is an enjoyable way for them to develop important manual dexterity, memory and coordination skills. Be sure to introduce your child to puzzles that are suitable for his or her age group as many children will get frustrated with puzzles that they cannot solve – and many times this is simply because they have not yet developed the necessary hand-eye coordination or thought processes to complete them. Provide puzzles early to your child because as he or she becomes more comfortable with the idea of solving puzzles, your child will be able to complete them on his or her own, allowing for a rewarding experience for both you and your child.