Jigsaw puzzles are an excellent source of educational value for children of all ages. This is because to complete a jigsaw involves the child using several different aspects of the thinking process. This article will explain how you can use puzzles with very young children to accelerate their learning development.
An infant initially learns to recognize objects by their shape and not necessarily what position the object is in. A chair is a chair whether it is upside down, upright or lying on it's side it doesn't matter. The simple puzzles produced for young children help to develop more refined recognition and definition skills.
There are valuable learning experiences that can be gained from puzzle activities. Firstly hand-eye co-ordination is necessary to manipulate the piece into the correct position. To fit the piece exactly involves observing the shape of the hole as well as the shape of the puzzle piece. At first a young child deals with the problem by trial and error and sometimes force. The guidance and example of a parent begins to solidify the process. The youngster starts to develop spatial awareness and mental manipulation as well as increasing physical dexterity. Skill and ability develops as the child learns to place the piece in correctly and internalization of the process occurs.
When trying to do a jigsaw puzzle children soon discover is that it does matter which way up the puzzle piece is. It does not fit in the space unless it is in a certain position. A typical early childhood puzzle is wooden with a picture and has spaces where the pieces fit to complete the picture. With a street scene, for example, there might be a separate car shape, bus shape, and a truck shape that complete a puzzle. Early learning puzzles are typically robust as the first response of an infant is to try to force the piece into place taking no notice of its shape. With adult guidance the young child learns to manipulate the piece until it does fit exactly.
Talking with your child is so important. Not only does it strengthen the bond between you but it creates a great opportunity to expand your little one's vocabulary, as well as increase the recognition of objects and situations outside the child's immediate world.
Early childhood puzzles can be purchased in varying degrees of difficulty as your youngster's spatial and reasoning skills become more developed. Children learn to recognize color and shape by playing. Adult conversation increasing the potential of the young learner's understanding and development. The green shape only fits in the green hole. This type of matching activity develops early reading skills.
When introducing a new puzzle spend time doing it together at first. Make this a happy social time and lots of fun. Do a puzzle with your child long enough to maintain interest and attention, but be ready to move on to another activity as focus begins to tire. Eventually children will want to do puzzles by themselves as their dexterity and confidence increases, With praise and encouragement children will practice until the skills become familiar. Then is the time to introduce puzzles with a greater challenge.
The value and benefit of sharing jigsaw puzzles with your child is priceless. Not only can you facilitate greater mental and physical development, but you can also create opportunities for social interaction and happy childhood memories.
Barbara White has over twenty years experience as a parent, teacher and principal. Barbara, President of Beyond Better Development, now enjoys sharing her experience and insights about learning with parents and teachers through workshops and seminars
Jigsaw Puzzles are a fun way to learn! Barbara White, www.livingbeyondbetter.com, presents seminars and workshops for teachers and parents For more articles about puzzles visit www.thepuzzlemania.com