Why We Love Puzzles

puzzles

I just found out that today is National Puzzle Day.  Who knew?   Puzzles are fabulous toys for every child.  Be sure to look for puzzles made of good quality and try to find some with pictures that look as realistic as possible.  There are a lot of developmental skills you can work on while playing with puzzles.

1.  Fine Motor Skills – Getting those puzzle pieces to fit exactly right takes a lot of concentration and fine motor skills.  Holding the little knobs (if there is one) is a great way to work on using a pincer grasp.  Bigger knobs work on holding objects with your palm and whole hand.  Some puzzles are inset puzzles, others are interlocking puzzles.  There are puzzles with fun textures and some with locks, latches and doors.  All of these require different fine motor skills and strategies.

2.  Visual Processing – Looking at the puzzle pieces and trying to figure out how to make them fit takes a lot of hand-eye coordination and visual processing skills.

3.  Cognitive Skills – Puzzles are great to work on matching pictures and following directions.  You can also work on identifying, matching and naming colors, shapes, numbers and letters.

4.  Speech and Language Skills –  Not only are puzzles great to work on naming pictures, but you can also encourage your child to request objects.  Hold the puzzle pieces in your lap and encourage your child to request which piece they want by signing or saying, “more.”  For older children, you can work on using the phrase, “I want + object name”  (e.g. “I want cat, I want blue circle, etc”) to request the desired puzzle piece.  Some puzzles make sounds when you place the pieces on the board – this is a great way to encourage your child to imitate sounds and talk about what they see and hear.

5.  Gross Motor Skills – You might be wondering how puzzles can work on gross motor skills, but they can be a great for encouraging motor skills.  For younger kids, place the puzzle board on top of your couch, chair or coffee table.  Then, place the puzzle pieces on the floor.  Your child will have to bend and squat down to pick up the puzzle pieces and then place them in the correct spot.  For older kids, place the puzzle pieces across the room.  Encourage your child to walk, run, hop, jump, skip, crawl, etc. across the room to pick up the puzzle pieces one at a time and then bring them back.  You could even develop an obstacle course for them to go through to bring back the pieces.  These activities are great for encouraging gross motor movements and motor planning skills.

Puzzles can be a lot of fun and they work on so many great developmental skills.  So, grab a puzzle and your child and have some fun!

 

Now It’s Your Turn:  Does your child have a favorite puzzle?  If so, tell us about it. 

 

Advertisements

3 Benefits of Developmental Screenings

It is perfectly normal for parents to have concerns about their child’s development.  Many parents, especially first time parents, may be unaware of “typical” child development milestones.  These milestones are important guidelines used to monitor and measure a child’s development, especially during the critical time for learning – birth to 5 years of age.

The American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) recommends “regular, universal developmental screenings of infants and toddlers by pediatric healthcare providers at 9, 18 and 30 months of age.”  These are standardized screenings that typically take about 15 – 20 minutes to complete and provide an overall snapshot of your child’s development. They are important for 3 reasons:

1.  Identify Areas of Concern:  These screenings look at all areas of development – including gross and fine motor skills, communication and language, cognitive skills, self-help skills, etc.  Screenings can be completed by your child’s pediatrician, but your child’s daycare, preschool, therapy center or other community organization may also be able to provide a screening for your child if you have concerns about a specific area of development.

2.  Monitor Growth and Development:  By completing screenings at regular intervals (9, 18 and 30 months), the pediatric professional is able to monitor your child’s development to make sure that they are continuing to gain new skills.

3.  Make Referrals for Services:  While screenings alone cannot diagnose a problem or indicate if a child needs therapy, if concerns are noted in any area, referrals can be made in a timely manner.  These referrals could be to your state’s Early Intervention system, specific therapy or education centers, other community programs, etc.

If you have concerns about your child’s development, it’s important for you to talk with your child’s pediatrician.  Always trust your parental instincts and remember that you are the expert on your child.  Tell the pediatric professional your concerns and ask for a screening to be completed if one isn’t offered.

Now It’s Your Turn:  Have you found developmental screenings to be beneficial for you and your child?