Why you should consider adding puzzles and brain teasers to your homeschool curriculum.
Introducing puzzles to children at a young age can have longstanding benefits to children. If you are currently or plan on homeschooling your child(ren) in the future consider introducing brain teasers to your homeschool classroom. Not only will they assist in a multitude of developmental facets, but they will do so in a way kids find fun. The benefits of puzzles are threefold: Mental, Physical, and Emotional.
Let's start with the mental benefits of brainteasers.
1.) Cognitive - In order to solve a puzzle you must first understand the goal. Is it a jigsaw puzzle where you are trying to complete the picture? Perhaps it involves identifying letters or associating words with an image. Will your student need to create a shape such as a cube? These are all mental process a child will need to go through in order to properly solve the puzzles which leads into the next benefit.
2.) Problem solving - Once the puzzle's challenge is identified the child must then figure out of to arrive at the solution. Using the examples from above take a moment to think how different the process of solving each actually is. The difference between a jigsaw puzzle and stacking puzzle may seem obvious to you and me, but to a child not so much. They do not of the experiences yet to correctly identify the difference between different sets of puzzles or problems. Because of this puzzles represent an ideal method of teaching problem solving with no additional instruction. They can teach it to themselves without even realizing it.
Next we will touch on some of the physical benefits of puzzles.
1.) Hand Eye Coordination - Puzzles require precise placement of pieces. Take this Moon Phases Puzzle for example. The objective is to replicate the different phases of the moon with each phase consisting of two pieces. In order to achieve this the two puzzle pieces must be placed in a circle in the proper orientation. Another example is the classic fit the shape style puzzle.
2.) Fine Motor Skills/Dexterity - Manipulation of smaller pieces is an essential skill when solving a variety of puzzles. Kids can be a bit fumbly with objects while they learn how to properly manipulate them. Puzzles such as The Shapeshifter are perfect to assist in development of finger dexterity and fine motor skills.
The third positive impact of puzzles are the emotional benefits.
1.) Self Confidence - This one may not seem so obvious, but completing a task, especially a challenging one, such as solving a puzzle feels great! Just think about the satisfaction you have when accomplishing a goal, beating a video game, or exceeding your own limitations. These are all confidence boosting experiences. Enabling your child to experience activities and overcome challenges at a young age will provide life long benefits.
2.) Social Skills/Ability to Work With Others - Another one that may fly under the radar, but should not be overlooked. Even if you only have on homeschooled student you can work together with them to solve the problem (puzzle). Learning how to and experiencing positive interactions as early as possible is extremely important. These earlier years will serve as a foundation to be built upon as your children grow.