Library Blog

Kendriya Vidyalaya Port Trust, Kochi

Puzzles for the mental development of kids

A century ago Sam Lloyd, America’s greatest puzzler, said “I have always treated and considered puzzles from an educational standpoint, for the reason that they constitute a species of mental gymnastics which sharpen the wits and train the mind to reason along straight lines.”

A child’s IQ and scholastic performance always depend on the quality of intellectual stimulation and social environment. As a teacher I feel that puzzles are an often neglected, but commonly available, resource.

Puzzles are often an individual activity, requiring a high degree of concentration for an extended period of time. Such fascinating mysteries can captivate a child’s mind — and in the end the success is theirs alone! It is a wonderful way for children to gain confidence in their own growing abilities.

Puzzles develop social and literary skills
Puzzles can also be an enjoyable family or group activity. These games can promote collaboration for strategies, observation, teamwork and a sense of collective achievement.
Picture puzzles give excellent opportunities for conversation between child and parent, and between children. It also promotes “self-talk” which helps children develop their own language skills. Puzzles are an excellent way to introduce new words and concepts in a comfortable setting.

Parents can groom their kids while doing puzzles with them. Children can develop social and moral skills while having fun.

How to select a good puzzle?
Kids often enjoy doing puzzles that seem “easy” to elders — but the puzzle is just right for them. They may even do the same puzzles over and over again. The important thing with puzzles is experiencing success and mastery of logic in a entertaining, non-frustrating way.

All puzzles develop patterning and problem solving skills and will increase your child’s self-confidence.

As a teacher for many years, I know from experience that there is an educational value in all types of puzzles. The skills acquired and practiced in completing picture puzzles are a fundamental part of successful learning. Doing puzzles develops several functions of the brain simultaneously as a child is engaged but also learns. Most notably developed in this learning process are the abilities to reason, deduce, analyze, sequence, and develop logical thought and problem solving skills.

Children will move to harder puzzles when they are ready. Some children move quickly through puzzles while others will take their time. Children should be encouraged to do puzzles at whatever level to enjoy repeated feeling of success. Puzzles should be designed so that children can easily advance through various stages of puzzle difficulty. Puzzles are an excellent activity to enable kids to think critically.

I fully agree with Lloyd, and believe this prince of puzzles was most apt in saying that “Puzzles are a school for cleverness and ingenuity”.

[This article is by Mr.S.Muraleedharan, who has worked as a Maths Teacher in Kendriya Vidyalaya Port Trust for several years. The author conducts motivational sessions both for students and teachers. He handles the column “Work it Out” for school children in Deccan Chronicle.]


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