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.