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‍The Complete Brain Exercise for All

++The first part of this article is for parents to understand the great mental workout that puzzles can provide to their youngins.

++The Second part is aimed at all the other people loving, or wondering, about jigsaw puzzling and its benefits.

How many times have my son and I built jigsaws together? I lost count months ago. The benefits of jigsaw puzzles are UNDERRATED. Period. This form of entertainment is priceless for keeping your little one occupied, thinking, and quiet… 

In this digital world of too many phone games and YouTube shorts, it’s hard for little ones to keep their minds focused…so giving them a little ‘old school’ playtime is what they might need. 

Unlocking Their Creativity And Problem-Solving Skills 

Puzzles have been around for centuries, and they are an excellent way to help preschoolers(and adults) unlock their creativity and problem-solving skills. The benefits of jigsaw puzzles are numerous for this age group as they provide a fun and engaging way to learn and grow.

Not only do jigsaw puzzles help children develop fine motor skills, but they also provide a great opportunity for them to practice their super-brain abilities.

 As preschoolers work on their puzzles, they learn to think critically and develop strategies for tackling challenges. The benefits of jigsaw puzzles also help children to practice their visual-spatial skills and memory, as they analyze the pieces and determine what goes where. 

Additionally, jigsaw puzzles can help preschoolers build self-confidence as they discover that they are capable of doing something. Furthermore, puzzles are a great way to teach children the importance of persistence and patience, as they learn that it takes time and effort to complete a task.

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Jigsaw Puzzle

What are jigsaw puzzles?

Jigsaw puzzles are a group of pre-cut pieces arranged to form a picture. The goal of the puzzle is to put the pieces together to create the final image. Traditionally, jigsaw puzzles have been made of cardboard with a wooden or plastic frame. However, nowadays, many puzzles have been made from plastic so that they are easier for children to manipulate. The pieces are usually fitted together with interlocking tabs. 

Jigsaw puzzles have been around for hundreds of years, and they have proven to be a great way to help children develop their creativity and problem-solving skills. In the past, most puzzles were made for adults or older children. However, there has been an increase in the number of jigsaw puzzles made for preschoolers.

Surprising Benefits of Puzzles for Preschoolers

As preschoolers work on their jigsaw puzzles, they can develop a wide range of skills, such as fine motor skills, problem-solving abilities, creativity, and brain health!

Fine motor skills – Working on jigsaw puzzles is a great way to help children develop their fine motor skills. As preschoolers manipulate the puzzle pieces, they can improve their dexterity and hand-eye coordination. This is especially helpful for young children who are just learning to write. 

Problem-solving skills – Jigsaw puzzles provide a fun and engaging way to help children practice their problem-solving skills. As children work on their puzzles, they have to analyze the pieces and determine what goes where. They also have to think critically about the best way to put the pieces together. 

Creativity – Puzzles are a great way to foster children’s creativity. As preschoolers work on their puzzles, they can use their imagination to come up with different ways to put the pieces together.

Build self-confidence

When children work on the pieces of a puzzle, they can develop a sense of accomplishment as they get closer to finishing their puzzles. This sense of pride and confidence can help children to feel more comfortable with their abilities, which can be especially helpful for shy or introverted children. 

This feeling of accomplishment and using different approaches to complete a puzzle can help children to build their self-confidence. They can also learn the importance of setting goals and meeting them. This can be helpful for children who have a difficult time getting motivated to do things or even kids that have a short attention span.

Girl with Penguin shaped Jigsaw Puzzle

persistence and patience

As children work on their puzzles, they learn that it takes time and effort to complete a task. They have to be persistent and patient as they work through the pieces to finish their puzzles. This can help children to understand the importance of following through with a task and a fun challenge until they are completed. It can also help them to develop good time-management skills, as they learn to work on their puzzles within a set time frame.

Daddy Tips

As with any activity, it is important to set a few guidelines for working on jigsaw puzzles with preschoolers. Here are a few suggestions from me.

Have a quiet time: ‘Brain Games’ like puzzles and board games are a great way to foster creativity, but they can be quite loud. If you have a particularly loud preschooler, it might be best to do the puzzles during quiet time. No phones…

Choose the right size: Make sure that the puzzles that you choose for your child are the right size. If they are too difficult, your child will become frustrated. If they are too easy, they won’t gain any benefits from working on them. I’ve used large wooden jigsaw puzzles in the past when my son was much younger. They could fit well with your child as well. 

 ++At our place, my son started with 12 pcs puzzles and made his way toward much harder ones. We have 500pcs and 1000-piece jigsaw puzzle that we have yet to touch, as it might be way too much for him to handle(and maybe Daddy too.) 

Make it a family activity: Puzzles can be a good reason to start a new family activity. This can be a great way for children and parents to spend time together. It can also be a great opportunity for parents to foster their children’s creativity and mental stimulation.

a girl holding huge puzzle pieces

types of jigsaw puzzles for preschoolers

As preschoolers work on their puzzles, they can develop a wide range of skills. This makes jigsaw puzzles a great activity for this age group. There are a variety of jigsaw puzzles available that are designed for preschoolers. This includes preschool-aged children’s puzzles with smaller pieces that are easier for children to manipulate.

 There are also themed jigsaw puzzles made for preschoolers, such as Disney puzzlesanimal puzzles, and transportation puzzles. These themed jigsaw puzzles can be a great way to engage preschoolers in new topics. For example, a transportation puzzle can be a great way to introduce preschoolers to vehicles. It really has to do with the age of the child and the gender. My son would not appreciate a ‘Frozen 2’ puzzle, I can bet on that! 

recommended puzzles for preschoolers

In this day and age of parents ‘plopping’ their kids in front of their phones to keep them entertained, the ‘good old’ jigsaw seems like something that grandma does on Sundays, but there is fun to be had. There is collaboration between parents and child or just the productivity of all of this for the child and limit their screen time. 

There are many different types of jigsaw puzzles for preschoolers or people of all ages. However, not all of them are appropriate for this age group. It is important to choose a puzzle that is appropriately challenging for your child’s skill level. It is also a good idea to choose educational puzzles, as this can help your child to learn new things. 

24,000 pcs puzzle by Educa Borras Life: This puzzle is designed to be completed in a slow and paced manner and on your spare time… This monster comes with plenty of pieces to keep your family busy for the next year! All joking aside, this might be the biggest undertaking that your fam has ever done as a team. Why not try it?!

Melissa & Doug 100-Piece Floor Puzzles: This is a great puzzle for preschoolers. It comes with 100 different pieces, which is a good amount of pieces for preschoolers to work on. The puzzle is larger, so it can be placed on the floor. This way, preschoolers can sit on the floor to work on their puzzles.

Melissa & Doug  Outdoor-Themed Double-Sided Puzzle: This is a great puzzle for preschoolers. The pieces are large and easy for young children to manipulate. It also comes with 48 jumbo pieces, which is enough for preschoolers to work on for a while.

jigsaw puzzle with man's face

Part Deux: Brain Teasers for Adults!

In this second part, I’ll touch on some of the above-mentioned but also focus more on the health benefits for parents and older adults as well. 

Enhancing Problem-Solving Skills

One of the top benefits of these awesome jigsaw puzzles is the improvement of problem-solving skills for mental health.  As you tackle a puzzle, you are constantly making assumptions, testing theories, and adjusting strategies.

The trial-and-error nature of puzzle-solving tests your adaptive thinking abilities, enabling you to approach challenges with a more innovative mindset. These problem-solving skills can prove invaluable both in your career and any other cool pursuits you’re trying to tame.

A Complete Brain Exercise

Jigsaw puzzles offer a unique opportunity to exercise both sides of your brain. The popular theory of left brain and right brain dominance suggests that individuals tend to utilize one side of their brain more than the other. However, jigsaw puzzles require using both analytical left thinking and creative right thinking.

As you try to use logical reasoning to put the puzzle pieces together, you’re using a future picture, so you engage critical thinking, logic, and imagination, forming a healthy balanced and harmonious brain activity. Cool stuff eh?

Hand of man playing with a puzzle

Boosting Short-Term Memory

If you find yourself struggling to remember recent events or daily details, jigsaw puzzles can be a powerful tool to strengthen your short-term memory and overall cognitive function. Engaging in puzzles strengthens neural connections and promotes the generation of new nerve cells, enhancing mental speed and memory retention.

In fact, puzzle-solving has been embraced by patients with Alzheimer’s disease and those looking to combat cognitive aging. By keeping your mind active and firing, puzzles can contribute to maintaining brain health. My mom was a nurse at an old age home for several decades and I was a regular visitor there as a growing child I remember lots of old people playing board games including puzzles on a regular basis.  

Visual Perception and Creativity

Visual-spatial reasoning, also known as spatial intelligence, plays a crucial role in various aspects of our lives. It involves the ability to visualize and manipulate objects and shapes, forming a larger picture.

Engaging in jigsaw puzzles reinforces the connections between individual puzzle pieces and the overall image, sharpening your visual-spatial reasoning skills. This skill is not only beneficial for tasks like driving or following a map but also enhances your creativity and problem-solving abilities.

Increasing IQ through Mental Exercise

I’m sure you’ve seen those ‘free IQ tests’ online and been disappointed with the number..LOL… At least for me. But, did you know that puzzles have the surprising ability to boost your intelligence quotient (IQ)? Researchers from the University of Michigan discovered that spending just 25 minutes a day solving puzzles, including jigsaw and crossword puzzles, can increase one’s IQ by up to four points.

Even notable figures like Bill Gates, with an IQ of 160, indulge in puzzling. The cognitive demands of puzzles are an amazing mental exercise, stimulating cognitive skills and problem-solving abilities, and could help in contributing to overall intelligence.

older man's face on a jigsaw puzzle

Cultivating Focus and Attention Span

There are so many distractions around us. The kids feel it and we do too. From Googling non-stop to using TikTok… It’s a never-ending hoopla of fast-paced searches, so jigsaw puzzles offer a unique opportunity to cultivate focus and improve attention span.

As you work on a puzzle, your attention is naturally drawn to the fine details of each piece. You search for the right piece, locate its proper position, and align it according to the visual cues. It’s a great way to unwind and chill out with or without the kids. 

Relieving Stress and Promoting Mindfulness

One of the best things about puzzles is the escape. Unlike activities that bombard you with constant information, completing a puzzle allows you to focus solely on the task at hand. Easier said than done but it’s fun.

Placing each piece together to form the bigger picture is calming and great for decreasing stress levels. As you focus on your puzzle, your body’s tension dissipates, blood pressure decreases, and you feel more mentally and physically at peace. Not sure where to go from here? Check out my article on Meditation Scripts that can help in stress relief. 

Teamwork Skills

Jigsaw puzzles offer an awesome opportunity to deepen connections with friends and family. As I mentioned in my mom’s nursing days, the older folks often worked together to solve their puzzles.  Solving a puzzle together requires effective communication, collaboration, and patience.

These essential skills not only strengthen personal relationships but also contribute to personal development. Cool stuff and it’s great with the kids as well. 

Solitary or Social Activity

One of the remarkable aspects of jigsaw puzzles is their versatility. They can be enjoyed as a solitary activity, allowing you to unwind and reset from the demands of daily life. Working on a puzzle alone provides a sense of tranquility and personal accomplishment. On the other hand, puzzles can also be a delightful social activity as mentioned above. 

The Joy of Completing Puzzles

There’s a unique sense of joy and accomplishment that comes with completing puzzle games. As you place the final piece in its rightful spot, a wave of satisfaction washes over you. Completing a puzzle provides a tangible representation of your effort, persistence, and incredible puzzle-solving skills. 

conclusion written on puzzle pieces with a magnifying glass looking at it.

​The Right Pieces

I’m no puzzle champion nor a knowledgeable person in these jigsaws, but I know what works. The cognitive benefits of jigsaw puzzles that are mentioned in this post are well-documented too.

All of the above mentioned is what has worked here in our home and with plenty of laughs along the way and races to see who can finish the 48pc puzzles fastest. It’s a fun way to bond with your own children and basically…have time with them not to mention keeping your own brain active. So, go ahead and purchase your first jigsaw puzzle!  Today, you’re the youngest you’ll ever be! Enjoy…

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