As a mom, you may have wondered how will you be able to teach your toddler to do Jigsaw Puzzles with complete focus and interest. I believe you’ll agree with me that our motivations for teaching our children to do jigsaw puzzles are more than just enticing them with bright colors and interesting shapes, from knobbed puzzles of simple shapes to jigsaw puzzles of varying complexity, people have long known the benefits of playing puzzles for children as they develop.
A brain consists of the left brain hemisphere, the analytical side, and the right brain, the creative side. According to jigsawjungle.com, puzzles help to exercise both parts of our brain. The Left-brain thinks logically and follows sequence while the right brain is creative, intuitive and emotional. Both types of thinking are required in order to successfully put the puzzle together. This increases the ability to learn, to comprehend, and to remember.
When You Teach Your Toddler to Do Jigsaw Puzzles
Encouraging our child to play puzzle and find the right place for each piece will:
- Develop attention, concentration and thinking skills such as recognizing, sorting, matching, remembering and problem-solving
- Develops hand-eye coordination and fine motor skills
- Learn to reason and deal with frustration
- Learn to persevere and be patient
- Builds visual-perceptual skills
- Develops language skills as the child listens and follow instructions and explains what they are doing
- Allow the child to learn that a whole is made of parts
15 Tips on How to Teach Your Toddler to Do Jigsaw Puzzles
My son was 2 years old when he started to show his interest and focus to play a knobbed puzzle. When he reached 2.10 years, I bought a jigsaw puzzle from a second-hand toy shop. His puzzle skills are improving and can now complete the whole puzzle with less supervision. However, I still believe that not all toddlers get to first enjoy and they easily get bored of playing puzzles. I’ve been there mom. I know how you feel. But, don’t sweat it. Based on this experience, I’m sharing with you these practical tips to encourage your toddler to enjoy building puzzles.
- Pick the Appropriate Puzzle. Choose a puzzle that is suitable for your child’s age and development. All children are unique and may require a different size of puzzle based on their abilities. Here are the general recommendations for the sizes of puzzles.
Suggested Age Puzzle Size 2 - 3 years old 4 to 12 Pieces 3 - 5 years old 12 to 50 Pieces 5 - 6 years old 50 to 100 Pieces 6 - 7 years old 100 to 200 Pieces 7 - 8 years old 200 Pieces 8 - 10 years old 300 Pieces 12+ years old 500+ Pieces
- Consider your Child’s Interest. Choose a puzzle the features your child’s favorite theme such as animals, transport, food or their favorite movie character. My son loves Lightning McQueen and Paw Patrol so I bought him these jigsaw puzzles that I know he has big interest.
- An Adult Help is Necessary. You may first need to stay nearby as your child figures out the new It’ll certainly be useful for a parent to help and encourage your child to focus from finding the right place for each piece to completing the whole puzzle.
- Avoid Distraction. Keep the puzzle area tidy and organized. It is advisable to remove the other toys in the area so your child’s focus will be on the puzzle alone. In our case, I always let him play puzzle in the living room, instead of the playroom.
- Puzzle Picture is Face Up. Take the pieces out carefully from its box and place them on the floor or any flat surface facing up to the design are clearly
- Refer to the Image. As your child works on the puzzle, tell him to refer to the image of the complete puzzle that is usually printed on the box.
- Start with the Most Noticeable Piece. Depending on the complexity of the puzzle, it is good to start with the most obvious image which can be located in the middle or the outside edge of the puzzle. If the image is complex, one of the easiest parts of the puzzle to start with is the outside edge. Have your child try to find all the pieces with a straight edge and see which ones have similar colors and hook them together. In the case of my son’s puzzle, he always starts with the character’s eyes which is in the center of the puzzle and works on finding the pieces to complete Lightning McQueen’s body.
- Sort by Color. Have your child help sort the pieces by their predominant color. If they don’t know their colors yet, show them a puzzle piece and ask if they can find others that look like that the same color as that piece.
- Use Descriptive Words. As your work on with your child, show him a puzzle piece and have him describe what it looks like. Does it look like part of a dog? Does it look like a wheel of a car? What colors are on it? Then talk about the particular part of the puzzle that may be missing. Discuss the color, patterning or shape of the border, and ask the child to look for a piece with those characteristics.
- Rotate the Puzzle. Ask your child to rotate the puzzle piece into position. Sometimes kids can’t figure out how to match the figure together. Encourage them to rotate the piece and try all sides before giving up. If unsuccessful, assist them by gently moving the piece so that it will be placed into position and ask, “Do you want to try to match this side?”
- Move the Appropriate Piece. Discreetly move appropriate puzzle pieces closer to the child’s reach so that it may be selected next. I suggest this when your child is getting frustrated.
- Be Patient. Allow them to do puzzles at their own pace. Too many pieces might be overwhelming to a child and might to start the puzzle but don’t feel like completing it. It is normal because some children easily get bored. However, it is good to encourage them to work on the puzzle the next day. Don’t force the child because forcing them will all the more make them resistant to play the puzzle.
- Right Timing. It’s recommended for your child to play puzzle in the morning or when his mind is still fresh, in a good mood, not sleepy or hungry.
- Show by Example. When you see your child is starting to lose his interest or gets bored, find a piece that matches and get your child’s attention while you are showing him how to fit them together.
- Give Positive Reinforcement. Praise your child once he completed the puzzle. Give them a high-five, clap and dance if it makes them smile.
Additional Tip. Don’t Sweat it. If your toddler really continues to hate building puzzles despite your best efforts – don’t be discouraged. Give it a skip and find another educational activity that he enjoys doing. After 2 weeks, try to encourage him again to play puzzles by following the tips above. This is what I did before and I bet your toddler will also enjoy building puzzles like mine.
Do you know a mom who has a toddler who doesn’t enjoy building puzzles?
Sharing is caring! Puzzles are an excellent way to encourage the development of so many different aspects of learning in a child. I’d love it if you’d share with other moms who would like to encourage their little ones and benefit from playing jigsaw puzzles.
If you have any questions, please feel free to comment below.