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Puzzles an Important Tool for Learning and Development

The students love to do puzzles in our nature corner.

Puzzles are great for cognitive and mental development as they enhance learning on a multi-dimensional level. The time and effort it takes to complete a puzzle develops critical problem solving skills and fine motor skills, and teaches perseverance and focus. The challenge of completing a puzzle is a tool for learning important life skills and helps builds a child's self-confidence.

We know that a child’s brain development is influenced significantly when a child acts on or manipulates the world around them. Puzzles provide that key opportunity. Children learn to work directly with their environment and change its shape and appearance when they work with puzzles. In terms of cognitive skills, puzzles increase visual spacial awareness and enhance a child's understanding of related themes and topics.

When a child completes a puzzle, they achieve a singular goal. The child must think and develop strategies on how to approach their goal. This process involves problem solving, reasoning, strategizing for efficiency and developing solutions- skills that can later be utilized in their personal or adult life. Through this process they practice using both logic and intuition.

Wooden Puzzle depicting elements of Nature completed by a student at Mulberry Tree School in Tai Po, Hong Kong

When children flip, turn, remove, or otherwise manipulate the pieces of the puzzle in different ways, they are learning the connection between their hands and their eyes. The eyes see the puzzle, and the brain then envisions how the puzzle needs to look or what piece needs to be found and placed. Then the brain, eyes, and hands work together to find the piece, manipulate it accordingly, and fit it into the puzzle accurately. As they endeavor to pick up, pinch and grasp pieces and fit them into the correct places, the children improve their fine motor skills and hand-eye co-ordination. Fine motor skills require small, specialized movements that are necessary for handwriting and other important developmental achievements.

 

Puzzles also help enhance a child’s memory. As a child works through the puzzle, they will need to recall the size, color and shape of various pieces. If a piece doesn’t fit, the child sets it aside. When needed, the child will practice recall by reflecting on past actions during this trial and error process.

 

Overcoming the challenges involved in solving a puzzle gives them a sense of achievement and pride within themselves. It provides a boost to their self-esteem as this prepares them for other challenges in life.

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