Articles for parents

How games and puzzles help a child's development

Dec 2016
A number of skills are development when playing games
There are a great many benefits to playing games

You've probably heard it said that puzzles and games are a great way to foster a child's development, and over any school holiday period they're a great way of entertaining the family too - but, how exactly do these activities help children develop?

As well as a great source of entertainment, puzzles and games are important educational tools which give children the opportunity to learn invaluable mental, physical, and social skills.

Let's consider each of these skills:

Mental skills
All games and puzzles require good concentration and focus; a child will get used to working in a settled environment and dedicating time to a single activity. Their attention span will then develop as the difficulty of the activities increase.

Jigsaw puzzles in particular require a lot of perseverance whilst a child looks to find the correct pieces to complete it; in doing so they will learn to recognise patterns and deduce solutions, for example, that all outline pieces will have at least one straight edge.

Word searches and other word games like Scrabble help children develop their vocabulary and spelling. They introduce them to new words and help develop their understanding of word groupings and associations.

Games like Chess or card games like Rummy develop a child's strategic and problem-solving skills as they weigh up their options and consider their opponent's hand. Such games encourage a child to think logically and carefully; they need to pay great attention throughout the game, either to the cards which have already been laid or to anticipate the next moves of their rival.

Having to remember complicated rules will also help improve their memory skills.

Physical skills
Motor skills are essential skills which toddlers need to develop, and puzzles are an excellent way to help speed up the acquisition of these. For example, when grasping puzzle pieces and adjusting them into place, a child will develop good hand-eye coordination, which will set them in good stead when it comes to holding a pencil.

Social skills
Playing games in teams is a great way to teach children how to co-operate with others. It's an opportunity to hone their social skills as they learn the importance of sharing, fairness, and teamwork.

They learn the value of patience and reward and working towards an end goal. Also how to deal with their frustration when they come up against a challenge or can't seem to find the correct answer.

In learning a new skill and completing an activity/winning a game, a child will feel incredibly proud and will experience a real boost in their confidence and self-esteem.

Games and puzzles allow you to channel a child's natural curiosity into an excellent learning opportunity, without them even realising!