Why Puzzles Are Good For Kids

Posted by Conor Murphy on June 13, 2012 in Editorial -- Share:

Crossword PuzzleKids are sponges for knowledge. We’ve all seen this. How many times have you marveled at how quickly young children pick up new skills? Walking, talking, writing, playing a musical instrument…all highly complex activities kids pick up in stride.

This ability to learn quickly and permanently makes a child’s early years an ideal opportunity for mastering higher level puzzle solving skills. It’s important to take advantage of this time and kids puzzles & games are the perfect tool for such teachable moments.

Whether it’s jigsaw puzzles, word searches, or mazes, most kids love puzzles and can spend hours solving them and resolving them! Little do they know they are training their brains to problem solve – a skill they will benefit from for the rest of their lives.

Puzzles and puzzle games help reinforce logic, critical thinking, visualization, creativity, and fine motor skills.

For all these reasons, kids who are good at puzzles will find their ability to gather information, assess a situation, and find a quick solution to a problem greatly sharpened. This will pay wonderful dividends in their academic, and later, professional career.

Let’s take a closer look at some of the key reasons why puzzles are good for kids:

Persistence

It should be noted that many of the puzzles found in our games are challenging and require repeated attempts in order to solve. The persistence needed to return to challenging puzzles after repeated failures is a great lesson for kids. They are bound to experience similar ‘first time failure’ many times over the course of their lives. It really is true – if at first you don’t succeed, try, try again.

Furthermore, some puzzles are ‘practice makes perfect’ puzzles. Ones where you see how to complete the puzzle very quickly, but must practice and master the appropriate techniques in order to successfully apply them. Another great lesson for anyone looking to take on a hobby that appears straight forward (art, dance, writing, etc.), but requires years of focused practice to master techniques and fine tune details.

Labyrinth-Puzzle

The Classic Wooden Labyrinth Puzzle

Problem Solving and Critical Thinking

Puzzles are a great way for kids to begin learning the scientific method (observe, hypothesize, test, conclude). By taking the time to observe (what is this puzzle?), hypothesize (how am I going to solve this puzzle?), test (now I will solve the puzzle!), and conclude (let’s see…did that work?), kids are prepping themselves for more sophisticated application later in life.

Furthermore, puzzles are ‘self-checking’. In most games, players are stuck until a puzzle is solved. As such, children are not expected to solve the puzzle on the first try. Typically, an infinite number of attempts to solve puzzles is offered. This keeps enthusiasm high and helps sustain – and even motivate – the young problem solver.

Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove Puzzle

Rotating Wheel Puzzle from Mystery Case Files: Dire Grove

Hand Eye Coordination and Fine Motor Skills

Kids spend loads of time mastering gross motor skills (running, dancing, rolling, etc) during their early years, but they also need to focus on fine motor skills (grasping, holding, manipulating, etc).

Many toys and playthings have been created for such development, but puzzles offer another great option. Many feature small pieces, moving parts, interlocking components, and hidden members that will pose a challenge for young kids.

Even puzzles in computer games offer an opportunity to master the use of the mouse and keyboard. As adults, it’s easy to take for granted the challenge such controllers pose for the newly initiated. By allowing kids to slowly master locating, clicking, dragging, and typing, we give them the opportunity to improve their fine motor skills.

Rubiks Cube

Rubik’s Cube – The Ultimate Hand Held Puzzle

Creativity

It’s hard to ignore the creative aspects needed to design puzzles. Just by attempting a puzzles, kids are exposed to creativity on many levels. Add to that the creativity needed to devise a solution and kids are really abstracting their brain.

It’s important to take advantage of children before their brains have adopted the creative limitations many adults struggle to suppress.

Drawn Dragon

Paper Puzzle Meets Computer Gaming in Drawn: Dark Flight

Social Skills

Although many think of playtime as a solitary experience, those of us who spend time in forums or on Facebook know just how social being a gamer and puzzle solver can be. As puzzles are often the sticking points in games, they are especially ripe for spawning conversation – albeit on the web. Many of us have been forced to reach out to other gamers to get tips, hints, and tricks for solving puzzles.

Under the watchful eye of an adult, kids can gain a better understanding of internet communication and learn valuable lessons regarding online safety.

Written by

Conor is a Marketing Manager with Big Fish, working out of the Seattle office. In his spare time he enjoys watching science documentaries and playing old school adventure games. Get in touch with him on Twitter! or Google+