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  • Preschool Director

Best Practices @ Main Street: Puzzles

Here at Main Street Preschool, we feel it is part of our mission to partner with parents in the education of their children. To that end, this is the first in a series called “Best Practices @ Main Street” designed to highlight why we incorporate certain skills, activities and resources into our day at school.

In almost every age grouping at Main Street, puzzles are a daily activity. This is not just a time filler or seat work to occupy small hands. Puzzles have been shown to be one of the most comprehensively beneficial activities we could provide. According to multiple resources, puzzles improve skills in areas of physical, emotional, and cognitive domains. Michelle Mano in a article outlines the domain benefits as follows:

Physical skills
· Hand-Eye Coordination -- your child will develop a keen relationship between what their eyes see, what their hands do and what their brain relates to this information.
· Gross Motor Skills -- Larger puzzle pieces and stacking puzzle games can enhance the large movements of your child to the point where they can then work on their fine motor skills.
· Fine Motor Skills -- small and precise movements, such as the movement of fingers to get a puzzle piece in exactly the right spot, are built and can lead to better handwriting and typing skills.
Cognitive skills
· Understanding the surrounding world -- there is no better way for your child to gain an understanding of the world around them than by letting them literally manipulate the world around them.
· Shape recognition -- the first puzzles we use are simple shapes -- triangle, squares and circles. From there more complex shapes are used until the abstract jigsaw puzzles are used.
· Memory -- Your child has to remember the shape of pieces that don’t fit fir when they will fit later on.
· Problem solving -- Either the puzzle piece fits or it does not. Your child uses critical thinking skills to solve the puzzle and, best of all, you can’t cheat a puzzle!
Emotional skills
· Setting goals -- The first goal is to solve the puzzle, the next goal will be a series of strategies your child comes up with to solve the puzzle. Such as putting familiar shapes or colors in one pile for future reference.
· Patience -- Puzzles are not like sports, you can’t just step up to the plate and swing until you knock it out of the park. You must practice patience and slowly work through the puzzle before you reach the ending.

In addition to these Early Childhood benefits, studies indicate that future success in mathematics and STEM related academics begin with the problem-solving strategies a child gains from working puzzles at an early age. It is always with great intention that we select the teaching methods and activities we utilize here at Main Street. We believe the small things add up in the end, and we love specializing in "the small things."

Other Resources:

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