I'll start by sharing a little blurb from another's blog. You can read the whole article at
Here are some of the skills that are enhanced by playing with puzzles:
- Cognitive skills: Puzzles improve a child's problem solving and reasoning skills. It helps them to see whole-part relationships, increases their visual spacial awareness and depending on the subject matter can teach them a variety of topics like the Alphabet, Numbers, Color recognition, shape recognition, categories like pets or transportation vehicles, and more.
- Fine motor skills: Puzzles are fun way to improve fine motor skills. From the time a baby can start eating solid food parents give their children cheerios to help a child with their pincher grasp. Fine motor manipulation is key for writing but but children start learning this skill long before they can hold a crayon or a pencil. Various types of puzzles like peg puzzles and chunky can help teach little ones to pick up and grasp pieces and they aid in the development of the pincher grasp.
- Hand-eye coordination: As a child places each piece in the puzzle they are manipulating it so see if it fits. Their hand eye coordination is enhanced through this trial and error process.
- Social skills: Puzzles can be done alone but are also a great tool for fostering cooperative play. As kids ask for a piece to be passed to them, or discuss where a piece should go they are sharing the task and learning to cooperate. It can also help a child learn how to handle frustration when a piece does not fit.
I agree with what this individual has posted. It's good to think about the reasons why certain toys/manipulatives are beneficial. There are so many different types of puzzles. They vary in number pieces, material it's made out of, peg/no peg, large/small peg, jigsaw etc. What I have on the assessment I use is that a child, at the end of their preschool years, is able to complete a 12 piece jigsaw puzzle. That is actually "harder" then what many preschool assessments state. Usually I see a 6-8 piece puzzle. But, like with anything, when a child works with something and has been taught how to do it...they advance. I find that my students often leave with the ability to do up to a 24 piece puzzle. My own boys did 63-100 piece before Kindergarten. Part of it has to do with their personality and natural ability for logical thinking but most of all it's experience.
The logical thinking that is working in the background as they try to do a puzzle will eventually help them be able to think about larger problems and solve them. We definitely want that. Also, I find that many children just don't notice details and so I find that puzzle activities helps them in this regard. Noticing details will help them with writing letters/numbers, drawing, patterning and more!
The small pegs are great for encouraging the tripod grasp.