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.