9 Reasons Your Child Should Do Word Puzzles EVERY DAY

by | Feb 1, 2017

Puzzles are still a fantastic way to occupy your child’s time and assist their learning in surprising ways.

As a child, you probably spent a fair amount of time playing hangman, figuring out puzzle books, solving word searches and completing crosswords. Today, children spend hours in front of the TV, on their phone or playing computer games, but word puzzles can be used to great advantage to help your child’s learning.

Here’s 9 reasons why word puzzles are an important and good activity for your child to become interested in.

1. They help to improve and practice spelling

Word puzzles can help your child to practice the spelling rules they have learnt at school, while at the same time reinforcing those rules each time they are used. This is especially true with puzzles like crosswords, where it’s important to spell the words correctly to be able to complete the task.

Word puzzles also help to make learning spelling fun, for example by making anagrams of this week’s words for your child to unscramble.

2. They help to grow and extend vocabulary

The more words your child comes across, uses and understands; the broader their vocabulary will become.

Word puzzles can be a great and easy way to increase your child’s exposure to new vocabulary. They also get the opportunity to see the word used in context, as well as figure out its meaning or definition.

3. They improve your child’s working memory

Working memory helps both long-term and short-term memory to work together.

Word puzzles such as crosswords and logic problems, where your child has to access vocabulary and definitions from memory, can help to improve their working memory. This can then also have an effect on their learning and achievement.

4. They improve your child’s work pace

Word puzzles can help improve your child’s processing speed, so that they are able to problem solve and arrive at the correct answer, faster. This doesn’t just help with literacy, but also with other classroom tasks that require quick thinking, such as mental maths.

5. They encourage and improve problem-solving skills

Crosswords make your child think about how each of the words interact with one another on the grid, while code breakers encourage the consideration of multiple possible solutions before arriving at the correct answer.

Many word puzzles require not just a good vocabulary and good spelling, they also require the ability to think logically and strategically. Word puzzles ask children to think outside the box, engaging their problem-solving skills and creativity.

6. They foster persistence

Word puzzles can be challenging, some more than others. At times, they require more than one attempt to reach the correct answer. Persistence is often needed to keep trying once one has failed repeatedly to solve the puzzle, which in itself is a good lesson for children to learn.

They are going to experience similar failures many times over the course of their lives, where they don’t get something right the first time and need to try again. The lesson of “if at first you don’t succeed, try and try again” is a good one and will help your child through many difficult and sometimes disheartening challenges.

7. They can assist with improving test taking skills

Word puzzles help to develop the skills your child will need throughout their school career: verbal reasoning, vocabulary, problem-solving, spelling, grammar and memory.

The more these skills are practiced, the better your child becomes at using and accessing them. This in turn makes their processing of these factors faster, which impacts their performance. When these skills are mastered, they make a significant difference when your child writes tests.

8. They can improve self esteem

The accomplishment of achieving a goal brings so much satisfaction to a child.  Overcoming the challenges involved in solving a puzzle really gives them a sense of achievement and pride within themselves.  It provides a boost to their self-confidence and self-esteem as this prepares them for other challenges in life.

9. You can take them anywhere

Puzzle books with crosswords and word searches don’t need to be plugged in and charged. They can go anywhere! They are a cheap, quiet and portable way to keep your child amused, whether that’s on a long journey or during the speeches at a wedding reception, with the added benefits of all the points above.

Even verbal riddles, which you can make up yourself and don’t require any stationery, are a great cost effective way to occupy time and learn simultaneously.

Puzzles are a fun educational toy that challenges young minds, teaching and preparing some very important life skills.

What ways do you incorporate mind-games in your child’s daily routine? Post your comments below.

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About the Author

Kayleen heads up the Customer Service team at WorksheetCloud. She has a degree in psychology and education from UCT, and taught in a classroom for several years with a special focus on children with learning challenges.

6 Comments

  1. Louise Scott

    I’v have a 6 year old girl that have a constraint problem and strangle with 1-10 numbers. She can count but can’t recognize them when I flash card it.

    Reply
    • Kayleen Olivier

      Hi Louise

      Thanks for your message.

      Number recognition can be a fairly serious problem if left unattended, however your daughter is still young and may still be developing those cognitive functions. The best starting point would be to talk to your daughter’s teacher abut your concerns. They will be most familiar with both your daughter’s strengths and weaknesses, and be able to provide the best advice on how to proceed further.

      I hope this helps. Please let us know if you have any other questions and we’ll be happy to assist.

      Kayleen

      Reply
  2. Najwa kemp

    Good morning Kayleen

    My son is a poor reader and struggles so much it breaks my heart… esp he’s phonics words… how do I go about in assisting him to understand… I have tried so many ways… he’s 8 turning 9 in May…

    Thank you kindly
    Najwa kemp

    Reply
    • Kayleen Olivier

      Hi Najwa

      Thanks for your message.

      Phonics is knowing that sounds and letters have a relationship. It is the link between what we say and what we can read and write. Phonics gives new reader the strategies to sound out words. For example, that the letter D has the sound of “d” as in “dog.” This then leads to learning how to blend letter sounds together to make words like dog. The ultimate goal of reading is good comprehension. But in order for your child to understand what he reads, he must be able to do it quickly and automatically, without stumbling over words. Phonics facilitates that process.

      Some good tips to facilitate phonics at home:
      1) Team up with the teacher. Ask how you can highlight phonics and reading. If you have concerns, share them.
      2) Listen to your child read daily. If your child stumbles on a word, encourage him to sound it out. But if he still can’t get it, provide the word so he doesn’t get discouraged.
      3) Revisit familiar books. It’s okay if your child wants to read favorites from earlier years.
      4) Read aloud. Choose books on topics that excite your child, and read with gusto, using different voices for the characters.
      5) Continue with the read-aloud. Include alphabet books. Some alphabet books tell a story or share information. Look for these.
      6) Sing the alphabet often. Be careful that “l-m-n-o” doesn’t come too quickly and sound like one letter. It is a group of letters with four distinct sounds; slow down at this part, maybe even pause after the letter n, and then continue with saying the alphabet slowly and clearly.
      7) Look for letters wherever you go. Examples: signs, cereal boxes, book covers. Look at letters, say the letter name, say the letter sound, then say a word that begins with that sound.
      8) Make flash cards. Play letter games such as Memory or Go Fish with letters or sounds, and when you find a match say a word that begins with that matched sound. Play Tic-Tac-Toe using letters other than X and O.
      9) Start with simple words, like bat. Write the word on a piece of paper, point to the first letter, and ask for the sound. Continue with each subsequent letter.

      You can also make use of WorksheetCloud’s phonics worksheets to help him practice identifying and blending different sounds and letters. If you’d like to know about these worksheets, let us know and we’ll be happy to assist.

      Kayleen 🙂

      Reply
  3. Vicky Lowe

    I have Afrikaans speaking youngsters in my class. Ages range between 8 to 13. What I have found in one instance, was to let them recite the ABC as we know it. Over and over again. I give them a letter in the middle of the ‘recital’ and they must be able to carry on from there, without starting with A again. They then make words and write them in order of the alphabet. e.g. words with the “bee” sound and not the “b” sound for ‘back’, and so on. They have to write a word for each letter.as A stands for age. B stands for bee and so on. We then do the phonetical abc, as in ‘a’ (apple) ‘b’ (bay, ‘c’ for case, ‘d’ for day and so on. It takes a while to learn and say the the phonetic a – b – c down to z for zoo. Somehow the phonetic a,b,c is easier on the ear and they grasp it quite quickly. We also do combined vowel sounds, as well as consonant sounds. Let us say the word ‘chain’. They have to write 3 or 4 words starting with the ‘ch’ sound, at the beginning of the word, the middle of the word and the end of the word. They may consult the dictionary for such words. After that they must make more words which sound like chain, e.g. rain and so on. One can expand this method quite a lot. Having to use the dictionary is another plus in the exercise.

    Reply
    • Kayleen Olivier

      Hi Vicky

      Thanks for your message.

      You have provided some great additions/elaborations on simple word and letter puzzles for emergent literacy! Thank you for sharing your valuable tips and your experiences in the classroom.

      Please let us know if you have any questions and we’ll be happy to assist.

      Again, thanks for sharing your insight with us, we really appreciate it!

      Kayleen 🙂

      Reply

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