- While matching puzzles help with various areas of cognitive development, one extremely important part is vocabulary. As early as 18-24 months, children see the difference in sizes and language development and this can help speed up their vocabulary. Communication is one of the most important aspects of development. It transfers over into various aspects of life.
- Critical thinking skills are developed and mastered. This is one of the most important skills that children need in their future too. It helps them solve problems in relationships, work, and school effectively.
- Increase your child’s attention span and focus using matching puzzles. When your child plays with a puzzle they have to practice active thinking skills to create a sequence of logical steps that will help them solve a puzzle. This is improving and developing their brain. Meanwhile, you can focus on your tasks a bit longer. This is your secret weapon to keep them busy through structured play.
Hey mamas! Are you wondering how to get your little one to sit longer and enjoy what they’re doing while reaching their milestones or even being one of the top in their class? Shaping cognitive development is extremely important within the first 8 years of life, especially the first 5.
Did you know that 85% of a person’s brain is developed by the time they are five years old?!
Of course, while no two children develop on the exact same timeline, there are sensitive time periods in which major developmental milestones are reached.
I’ve got a secret weapon that you are going to be so happy to help your child with cognitive development.
Matching Puzzles are the Gateway to Cognitive Development
What exactly is cognitive development in pre-school children?
The French psychologist Jean Piaget is responsible for publishing his theory on cognitive development in 1952.
Basically, it’s how a child reacts to their environment and it always changes as they grow.
Learingrx explains the 4 stages:
- Sensorimotor Stage: Birth through about 2 years. During this stage, children learn about the world through their senses and the manipulation of objects.
- Preoperational Stage: Ages 2 through 7. During this stage, children develop memory and imagination. They are also able to understand things symbolically and to understand the ideas of the past and future.
- Concrete Operational Stage: Ages 7 through 11. During this stage, children become more aware of external events, as well as feelings other than their own. They become less egocentric and begin to understand that not everyone shares their thoughts, beliefs, or feelings.
- Formal Operational Stage: Ages 11 and older. During this stage, children are able to use logic to solve problems, view the world around them, and plan for the future.
A combination of nature and nurture is where your secret weapon comes into play. As parents, we want to give our kids all of the tools we can to make sure they are equipped to take on the world around them adequately.
While matching puzzles help with various areas of cognitive development, one part of it is vocabulary. As early as 18-24 months, children see the difference in sizes and language development can help speed this process up.
Since they’re able to communicate more, it’s so important to talk to them often especially as they play.
They will absorb more information during this time because it’s fun for them. It’s a two-fold type of positive reinforcement as it’s teaching them to love learning through structured play.
Matching puzzles encourage children to broaden their vocabulary.
How are size, vocabulary, and matching puzzles connected?
When kids are playing with you or other children, they learn how to communicate that they need the puzzle you may be playing with. They may take the lead and teach others where the puzzle they need goes.
Essentially, they’re practicing their communication skills and using words you’ve taught them. Children start to communicate more with others as they describe the matching puzzle they need and where it will go in order to finish the puzzle correctly.
Communication is one of the most important aspects of development. It transfers over into various aspects of life. It aids in their ability to learn more about what they feel and how to cope. With that and your help, they will understand how to describe how they feel and why.
How does learning how size come into play here?
Observing the difference in size helps them learn patterns and patterns to help them learn about life. It balances their view of the world around whether they’re actively acknowledging it or not.
This will help them with learning the sequencing of days of the week, months, and years eventually. As they grow, sequencing becomes more advanced and they will pick it up easier.
This also helps them with learning math skills and sequencing. Establishing order in life is important. Children do best with structure, of course, balance is key and free time is just as important.
Want to learn more about puzzles and the strong connection to STEM education? Read this blog.
Exercise Their Brain and Challenge Their Thinking
We all know our brain is a muscle and what happens when we don’t use our muscles enough.. they get lazy and eventually atrophy occurs. Sure with more exercise, we can improve, but we only improve on it so much.
The younger we start to exercise it, the better off we will be when we are older because we have shaped positive self-care habits that we enjoy as compared to feeling like it’s a chore.
What do matching puzzles do for your child?
Physical skills: from holding puzzle pieces and turning them until they fit. Hand-eye coordination, gross motor skills, and fine motor skills are practiced.
Cognitive skills: as they solve the problems of a puzzle. They will understand the world around them and it helps with memory. Because they have to remember the shapes and images that match for the next time they play to make it easier. They may even remember where it was placed last time.
Emotional skills: they learn patience and are rewarded when they complete the puzzle. Patience is an important skill that I talk more about in this blog. Setting goals is another emotional skill that helps them come up with a strategy and critically think.
All of those basic skills exercise their brain.
How do matching puzzles challenge children’s thinking and how is it important to them?
This helps them shape and practice their critical thinking skills and problem-solving. Having a world full of effective communicators and problem-solvers sounds like we’ll shape a better future for every generation to come.
According to psychologytoday.com, “Critical thinking involves skill at recognizing a pattern in given information and especially recognizing how the information is connected to the real world.”
It’s one of the most important skills that children need in their future. It helps them solve problems in relationships, work, and school effectively.
Back to the question now mamas.
Here are 4 examples of how matching puzzles challenge thinking.
- Shape recognition – The pieces need to be recognized and understood to determine how the pieces are used whether it’s a matching puzzle or like the Lock and Learn.
- Memory – When a puzzle doesn’t match they have to put it back and remember where it was.
- Problem-solving – A strategy has to be developed after recognizing what their tools are and how it needs to be used. This one process involves recognition, reasoning skills and developing solutions too.
- Mathematical development – Children can count how many puzzle pieces are there to ensure they aren’t missing any and can finish the game. They are practicing sequencing skills as they see what goes together and create a pattern to finish faster.
Here’s are 3 ways to encourage critical thinking while they play with matching puzzles:
- Don’t intervene immediately. Depending on their age, count to 20 -120 seconds or longer. See how they work through their problems. For younger children, patiently readjusting and maneuvering to grasp a toy on their own encourages continued problem solving and develops executive functioning skills.
- When they need your help, encourage different ways of thinking using open-ended statements. This helps with creative problem-solving.
- Help children develop hypotheses. For example, let them take a break if they’re getting frustrated and take a step back by saying, “If we do “x”, what will happen to the object in their hand?
One way I encourage this as a go-to is to rotate between toys every few months in their play area. It’s okay to have options, but too many causes what I call the “play and dump” where they play with so many toys within 10 minutes and are bored shortly after.
First, we go through together what we will donate to local daycares and thrift shops. This is something that teaches them how to be empathetic and nice to everyone. It also helps them appreciate what they have.
Then, some that they hardly ever play with I put them in a storage bin in the basement. After I see they are starting to get bored, I pull out the toys they’ve forgotten about, but I always make sure to have puzzles and matching games readily available.
Increase Attention Span and Focus
How else are matching puzzles your secret weapon?
Not only does it give you an extra 10 minutes of peace, quiet, and possibly going to the bathroom without any interruption, it’s really helpful for a number of reasons for them.
In the age of instant gratification and convenience, we could all use some help with our attention spans and the ability to focus.
In fact, I probably checked my phone/went on my phone 10 times in the last 25 minutes.
I want better for our kids and getting back to the basics is a necessity to help them navigate through our techy savvy world without feeling overwhelmed and easily distracted.
The first way to help our children be less distracted by the world around them is to create an environment that sets them up for success.
Turning off the electronics and creating healthy boundaries are positive ways to show them how to balance things around them.
Playing with electronics in certain rooms is another way to help them focus on their matching puzzles too.
How do matching puzzles increase their attention span?
When your child plays with a puzzle they have to actively think in order to create a sequence of steps that will help them solve the puzzle. This is improving and developing their brain.
Since it’s something they enjoy, they will pay attention more naturally. Usually what is most enjoyable about puzzles for all ages is the challenge and feeling of satisfaction when they’ve accomplished that challenge.
For a child working on a matching puzzle, the challenge may be remembering where the card with a red triangle was located 2 minutes ago as they pick up one card that shows a red triangle. But, they know there is a blue triangle somewhere, so they will try not to confuse the two.
Scanolonspeech.com has a good article on different complexities of puzzles and how they can increase the attention span of pre-schoolers too.
All in all, this requires attention to detail and that brings me to answer the next part of the question…
What about focus?
If your child isn’t focused on the matching puzzle, it can turn into more of a challenge for them, but in a frustrating way as they’re now farther from accomplishing the puzzle. For example, they might not realize or pay attention to the details of the image. There are multiple triangles with different colors. Let’s say they pick up a red one and try to match it with the blue and now realize that they have to take into account the colors, not just shapes.
UGH, a moment of frustration and disappointment may set in because it’s a silly mistake that some kids take more serious than others because they didn’t get it the first time.
They’re now learning how to focus 100% in order to improve their skills and they’re learning that they must focus 100% to get better results.
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