Puzzle play

Puzzle play builds an early foundation for math and science skills. Spatial reasoning skills and the ability to mentally rotate shapes are essential in subjects such as math, science and engineering.

The most popular puzzles for young children are those made of wood. Photo credit: Pixabay.

The most popular puzzles for young children are those made of wood. Photo credit: Pixabay.

Did you know that introducing puzzles to your child at an early age will build a strong foundation for early math and science skills? According to the University of Chicago two-to-four-year-olds who play with puzzles are more likely to improve their spatial reasoning skills. Spatial reasoning skills and the ability to mentally rotate shapes are essential in subjects such as math, science, and engineering.

There are a number of different kinds of puzzles that you can introduce to your young child. The most popular for young children are those made of wood. Some puzzles are made of colorful rubber, which adds an interesting textural experience. Puzzles are very durable and can withstand years of usage. 

As a parent it is important that you guide your child’s use of puzzles, which begins with selecting the level of puzzle your child is ready for—not too hard, not too easy. When choosing puzzles for your young child, Michigan State University Extension recommends selecting according to the number of pieces and your child’s development and experience. If you would rather choose puzzles based on your child’s chronological age, four to six pieces are usually appropriate for 3 year olds.

As a parent it is important that you take time to work with your child as they put together their puzzles. When working with your child, you can help build his or her confidence by allowing he or she to put together a simple, familiar puzzle before moving on to harder ones. Suggesting that your child removes one piece of the puzzle, then replace it will help your child if they are having trouble completing a puzzle. Puzzles are a long-range investment that children can return to day after day, so make sure that you introduce puzzles to your child at an early age. To learn more about how puzzles can build a foundation for math and science skills, visit eXtension.