Puzzles are powerful! Yes, those little cardboard pieces, all mixed up in an enormous jumble on the table, have the potential to strengthen skills needed for reading.
How Can Puzzles Help Children With Reading?
We're glad you asked! (Okay - you may not have asked, but admit it - you're curious about how puzzles relate to reading, aren't you?)
As we read, we rely heavily on patterns (e.g., letter formations, word formations, repetitions of phrases, spacing between letters and words, shapes of words, etc). Without patterns, it would be extremely difficult to read.
Puzzles Encourage Children to Recognise Patterns.
The patterns may be found in shapes, colours, markings, etc., which children locate, identify and match.
To be more specific, patterning skills puzzles strengthen include:
- Identifying similarities and differences
- Comparing shapes, colours and hues
- Working out positioning
- Recognising repetitions
- Matching elements (e.g., colours and patterns in pictures)
Other Skills Puzzles Strengthen
- Thinking processes: children engage in reasoning and problem solving skills.
- Problem solving skills: children use different methods such as analysing, trial and error, and comparison.
- Emotional wellbeing: Puzzles are soothing. (Well most times anyway! :o) Puzzles have a calming effect on the brain as puzzles engage the brain in a single activity - i.e., putting the picture back together again. This is great for helping children to concentrate and extend attention spans.
- Fine motor skills: children manipulate small pieces.
- Hand-eye coordination: the pieces are manoeuvred into the correct position.
- Self-esteem: children experience success, one piece at a time.
- Language: adults and children talk about the picture the puzzle is creating. This can be a great way to introduce new vocabulary and concepts.
- Enjoyment: puzzles are fun. This is why children want to do them over and over again.
Hint: be sure to match the level of the puzzles to the skills of your child. Puzzles with a few large wooden pieces are ideal for young fingers. As children grow, so do the number of the pieces in the puzzles while the size of the pieces actually decreases.
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