- Professionals say that children can usually concentrate for about 3-5x their age. For example, a 2-year old can concentrate for 6-10 minutes. STEM-certified puzzles are highly engaging as they foster creativity, challenge them, and teach your child how to work through failure. Giving you 5-10 minutes of self-care time.
- Parent-child bonding is crucial to emotional and social development. Research shows the earlier the better too. Later on in life, your child is more likely to have healthy coping habits and be in healthier relationships.
- Cognitive development is just as important as emotional and social skill development. Puzzles aid in developing topic-based knowledge, spatial awareness, and shape recognition (just to name a few). It helps build your child’s vocabulary and teach them about space, animals, and important topics that will help with school. Spatial awareness is extremely important too. It basically involves understanding how relationships between objects change when one or more of them is moved.
When my daughters were younger I knew that it was important to nurture them as young as possible. Majority of their brain develops before the age of 7 and so do their processing pathways.
In fact, the earlier they are introduced to different concepts during activities, the better prepared they will be for school emotionally and intellectually. Constantly creating new pathways helps the brain better critically think and problem-solve.
The problem was that during my research phase there was so much information online and it can be confusing and overwhelming, especially today as compared to even 8 years ago.
While there is always a negative, here’s the positive side to the internet.
With infinite access to research and professional opinions today, it becomes so much easier to weed out the fluff. Especially since I have experience with toy development and have learned over the years about child development through various professionals.
Study after study shows that classic activity like a puzzle is never a bad option. It’s actually one of the best go-to activities for your little one.
Puzzles Give You 5 Extra Minutes of “Me Time”
Professionals say that children can usually concentrate for about 3-5x their age. For example, a 2-year old can concentrate for 6-10 minutes.
If we can get our children to concentrate on something educational for the latter half, we’re doing something right!
Most adults these days can’t even concentrate on something for more than 15 minutes either (guilty here).
Here’s how more time playing with one toy helps you and your child at the same time:
- Sparks creativity – Creativity is one of the first things that is lost in school. It’s also extremely important to build as children grow. By allowing children to develop their creativity, they develop abstract thinking skills. From that skill, they will become critical thinkers and can reason well.
- The creativity aspect of puzzles is extremely engaging, giving you a few extra minutes to yourself.
- A quiet, non-screen activity – STEM puzzles are a great activity before bed, after school, or early in the morning.
- Screens are what we use to keep our children quiet and busy when we need a moment. However, children shouldn’t be on the screen for more than 2 hours a day even at 10 years old.
- When they’re 3 and under they should be avoided completely due to negative impacts like depression, anxiety, poor concentration skills, loss of social skills, and more. That’s why so many parents have replaced them with STEM-certified puzzles. It does just the opposite by building good skills and removes any worry of negative effects.
- Keeps them challenged – Without a challenge, things become boring rather quickly. Age-appropriate challenges build confidence and teach children to work through failure. Not only that but this makes it more time consuming to solve.
- Helps increase attention span – The fact that this is challenging and keeps their attention longer, it’s helping them increase their attention span!
- Great for independent play and learning how to problem-solve on their own.
- It helps them independently follow instructions too. Using detailed information, they have to learn sequences (which is great for math and geometry). They have to seek clarification in order to finish the puzzle.
- My daughters love the Stack by Numbers (ages 5+) because They come with a set of numerical, ordered, visual instructions for building the puzzle. It’s hitting all of the STEM-based core values in education. Even better, they snap into place so you don’t step on any of them.
- These STEM-certified puzzles encourage hand-eye coordination, concentration, and an understanding of spatial relationships.
Now with those extra 5-10 minutes, what are you going to do with your time?!
Let’s say you’re a busy working mom and I’m pretty sure most of us are juggling a job, children, a home, and probably a side hustle.
STEM-certified puzzles are great as independent activities.
What’s even better?
It’s a wonderful activity to take to places and play with your child.
Parent-child Bonding – Uninterrupted
I have two amazing daughters that love our special days together. It’s important to do family things as well as have 1 on 1 time with each parent. Whether that’s playing at home in our pj’s, reading a book, cooking dinner together or playing with STEM puzzles.
One way to get them excited and to get out of the house is to bring a puzzle to a coffee shop or out by the park on a nice day.
How does 1 on 1 time help our children?
- Emotional building and bonding help children have security in themselves and your love for them. Children need to know they are loved or they are very likely to have dysfunctional relationships when they are older.
- “Imagine if the hugs, lullabies and smiles from parents could inoculate babies against heartbreak, adolescent angst and even help them pass their exams decades later. Well, evidence from the new branch of science called epigenetics is reporting that this long-term emotional inoculation might be possible.” –The importance of early bonding on the long-term mental health and resilience of children
- Language development – Some children never stop talking. Others are quieter. Either way, all kids can benefit from hearing new words. The earlier the better too.
- Experts in early childhood language development say that it’s extremely important to talk a lot and often during their early years of life.
- When you speak to your little one, you expose them to new words. Did you know, the number of words your little one hears may be directly related to the size of their vocabulary later on?
- After solving a jigsaw puzzle, children are typically interested to learn about the assembled image. That’s where they talk with you and ask questions about things they see in the puzzle-like the different animals and plants. This helps them learn new words and develop their speech.
- Social Growth – Free unstructured play, as well as creative and physical outlets, contribute to social and emotional growth.
- Play whether it’s unstructured or structured play, both have great influence in building social skills. Even in academic environments, children are learning how to engage with others which enhances learning readiness, learning behaviors, and problem-solving skills.
- Free play helps increase the ability to store new information too. Playing allows you to view the world through your child’s eyes. It’s hard for us to remember the difficulties of being 2,3,4, and 5. They don’t possess the skills to communicate well, they’re learning how to express emotions like being frustrated or mad and how to control them too. With us there, we can nurture them and teach healthy habits. Doing so, we are creating phenomenal social skills that your child needs to navigate successfully through the real-world.
Don’t stop reading now that we’ve figured out social and emotional skill building using parent-bonding play. What about other areas of development?
Wait for a second, is it even possible to develop all of these skills with just one activity like a STEM puzzle?!
Cognitive Development Using STEM Puzzles
Spatial Awareness Improvement
What exactly does that mean?
Imagine Sophia playing with a toy car. She tries to drive it under a bridge, but you know that it won’t fit. However, she doesn’t. She only realizes this when the car bumps into it.
That’s Sophia building spatial awareness skills.
It basically involves being aware of yourself in space and how other objects relate to each other and you. Spatial awareness also involves understanding how relationships between objects change when one or more of them is moved.
When solving STEM puzzles, spatial perception comes into play big time.
Children learn to identify which pieces will fit together by analyzing their shapes and colors.
They must turn pieces around to find the correct fit.
Slowly, they learn to do this in their heads rather than by trial and error. That’s how you know they’re further developing this skill. Especially when you see it translating into other areas of life at home.
Let’s say you’re baking with your son or daughter and you use a 1/4 measuring cup and a 1/3 measuring cup. Your child casually mentions that one is bigger than the other and won’t fit before even trying it. That’s a high-five moment. Your little one is using the skills they’re learning from STEM educational puzzles!
Researchers from the University of Chicago actually confirmed the link between spatial awareness and puzzle play.
It turns out that 2-4-year-olds who played with puzzles improved their spatial perception skills much more than those who didn’t.
Here is how you can help the child develop their spatial awareness:
Here are a few: “turn, besides, above, below, between, next to, outside, to the right, to the left, etc.”
As you work on the puzzle pick out two spots. Then, offer your child two different pieces, one that will fit, and one that won’t.
Ask them to guess which of the two pieces will fit just by looking and to test their choice afterward.
Why is this important?
Because it helps kids learn their letters and numbers. Before your child can ever identify the letter “A”, they have to be able to recognize shapes in general.
Not only that, but it helps build early math skills. Number recognition is something pre-schoolers need to learn before they can move forward with advanced skills like addition.
They also develop observational skills to identify shapes. Being able to observe that a square has four corners and four sides help with categorization too.
These skills are key to science later on.
Now, onto how our children can learn about different topics from across the world in your living room!
Puzzles often cover many different topics, which can assist your child to learn about the world.
From plant recognition to habitats, these educational toys can help kids become familiar with just about anything.
Montessori programs are famous for using puzzles to teach children about botany and zoology too.
You can further educate your child by talking about the images on the puzzle.
This will build your little one’s vocabulary and subject area knowledge, which can aid them tremendously in school.
There are so many different types of puzzles… how do you know which one is right for your child?
Trying to make sense of the huge variety of formats and styles can feel like a puzzle in itself. Read this post to help you pick out the perfect one for your little one.