Practice Social Skills, Hand-Eye Coordination & More with Puzzles
By Tiffany Garcia, TJS Learning Specialist
Puzzles are a great tool to use in and out of the classroom. I originally began using puzzles as "brain breaks" between classroom transitions, as a wind down activity or after a big test (our winter themed puzzles really came in handy during Stanford test week).
The kids think they are just hanging out, decompressing and doing a fun activity. Little do they know they are doing so much more than that. There are so many benefits of puzzles!
Students develop a powerful relationship between what they see, what their hands do and how their brain connects this information.
Fine Motor Skills
Kids have to use their hands and fingers to pick up and turn puzzle pieces in exactly the right way in order to connect pieces. This can later lead to better handwriting and typing skills!
Either the piece fits or it doesn't. Students must develop a plan, use trial and error and work towards one common goal: Completing the puzzle!
My students describe the feeling of completing a puzzle as "satisfying." When a children complete a puzzle, they feel a sense of accomplishment that they successfully reached a goal and that their persistence paid off. This helps boost self-esteem and encourage independence. Let's just hope there are no missing pieces!
Planning and executing are a big part of completing a puzzle. Students have to come up with a plan or strategy to complete the puzzle successfully. For example, they must start by flipping all the pieces face up, sort out all the edges, connect the edges, then put them in groups by colors.
Anyone who's completed a puzzle knows you have to practice patience and slowly work through the puzzle before you can reach the end.
Teamwork and Social Skills
Everyone has different strengths. I notice some of my students are not really "puzzle kids," but they are great at seeking out certain pieces and working together with a friend. I often hear some of my students saying, "I'll find all the end pieces for you." While the kids work together on a common goal, they wind up discussing strategies and having casual conversation.
Try It at Home!
I have seen my students benefit from puzzles in all of the areas above. It's a calming activity for my anxious kiddos, a bonding activity for my class, improvement in spatial awareness skills and definitely supports their organization and planning skills.
I highly encourage parents to share this hobby with your kids! It's a great way to spend quality time with your children while also offering developmental support for everyone!
About the Author
Tiffany Garcia has been a proud member of The Joy School Family since 2013! Working with kids in a Montessori setting as a teenager, Tiffany knew she wanted to be a teacher from the start. She graduated with a bachelor's degree in education from the University of Houston – Downtown. Tiffany's first four years of teaching were spent in a public school setting, where she worked with struggling students with a wide range of learning differences. She is very passionate about learning and building relationships with her students.