Solving puzzles is a great way for young children to develop important hand-eye coordination and motor skills. The most basic of puzzles are those which include shape sorting, whereby a child is required to manipulate various shaped blocks and place them in the appropriately shaped slot. These are suitable for children as young as one, and will help them develop very basic problem solving skills as well as hand-eye coordination.
Jigsaw puzzles are very popular among children. Jigsaws with increasing levels of difficulty are available for a wide range of ages and developmental stages. Jigsaw puzzles utilize a handful of specifically shaped pieces that fit into corresponding holes in a board. The number of pieces can range from as few as four up to a thousand. Often with puzzles for younger children, the jigsaw pieces are decorated so that when placed together correctly they form an entire picture. Completing these simple puzzles not only aids hand-eye coordination but also will help develop a child's memory. Jigsaws designed for older children may include letters and numbers to help familiarize them with the alphabet and learn basic numeric skills.
Other puzzles designed for children rely on the matching of shapes and colors. These will again aid hand-eye coordination, but will also encourage your child to distinguish between different shapes and colors. These are basic problem solving skills, but are essential for them to develop and ready themselves for bigger challenges.
Puzzles are an invaluable aide for skill development. However, it is important to introduce children to those that are suitable for their age group. Young children in particular can get very frustrated with puzzles that they cannot solve. Often this is simply because they haven't yet developed the necessary hand-eye coordination or thought processes required to complete them.
Helene Goldnadel says that introducing puzzles to children at a young age is an enjoyable way for them to develop important manual dexterity, memory, and coordination skills. As they get older, they will be able to advance to more complicated puzzles promoting development of language and numeric skills. It is important to help your child with puzzles initially. As they become more comfortable with the idea of puzzles, they will be able to complete them on their own, providing a rewarding experience for both you and your child.