People of all ages love puzzles. Whether it’s a “fit the right block into the right hole” puzzle or a complex level mechanical puzzle, there’s something immensely satisfying about solving them. What you may not know is that puzzles aren’t just fun—they’re very beneficial for childhood development. And they aren’t just beneficial in one or two ways. Puzzles provide children with important mental, emotional, and physical challenges that can truly enhance their overall development. Here are some of their benefits.
Hand-eye coordination and motor skills require practice to develop, and puzzling can provide children with an entertaining way to practice.
Effectively using our brains to direct our hands to do what we want was a vital part of human evolution, and this skill today remains one of the most important when it comes to success. Most puzzles help children strengthen the connection between what they see, what they want to do, and being able to successfully achieve it.
Puzzles exercise both fine and gross motor skill development. Moving small pieces into alignment, pressing the right buttons with accuracy and precision, etc. can help with fine motor skills. Simpler, stacking puzzles for younger children can be extremely helpful for coordinating their gross motor skills.
Puzzles certainly help to encourage children to develop important cognitive skills.
Color and Shape Recognition
Color and shape recognition for example, are practiced with tangram puzzles, as well as many other types of puzzles. Learning to identify the correct piece that will fit perfectly with the colors and negative space of another piece is a fantastic way to encourage this practice in a fun way.
The very nature of puzzles is that they present a problem to be solved. First, the child must examine the “problem” and understand it. Then, they test out different solutions. This is a skill that carries over into nearly every other facet of life, well into adulthood.
Many puzzles require the puzzler to apply their ability to memorize what they’ve seen in order to progress. Memory is another skill that develops with practice.
The physical and mental skill development we see from puzzling may seem more tangible, but puzzles also promote emotional development.
There are many fun and entertaining toys that help children with other skills, but few are as effective as puzzles when it comes to promoting the feeling of accomplishment and confidence in one’s abilities. For a small child, this is a very important step to gaining agency, and the desire to achieve.
Patience and Persistence
Unlike some other games, there’s no “brute forcing” a puzzle. Indeed, many are designed to take a long time to complete successfully. This teaches children that there is more to fun and success than instant gratification.
As an adult, setting goals may seem like second nature, but children need practice. A puzzle has a “goal” built in to help children understand this concept.