Puzzle me this…

Puzzles/Panga are a great tool for use at kindergarten (and throughout those early learning years). They have so many benefits in terms of growth and development.

We talk a lot in early childhood education about fine and gross motor skills, visual perception, problem-solving, spatial relationships, and cognitive development. Who would have thought all that (and more!) could be built into a simple puzzle.

Puzzles make you think hard. That’s the point – and that’s also why they’re so great for tamariki’s development.

Not only do they help you to learn to solve problems, but conversely to also deal with a degree of frustration, and practice patience and perseverance.

Depending on the puzzle – it could be about spatial elements and matching sizes and shapes, or putting things in the right order, or… well, there are so many different types of puzzle it’s hard to list them all, but they all require a bit of ‘brain-power’, logical thinking, and observation.

Visual memory, visual discrimination, visual comprehension and perception of shapes are just some of the things triggered by a good puzzle.

Working out how things fit together in our world.

Te Whāriki, the New Zealand National Early Childhood Curriculum, says that, “Through the Exploration strand, children develop working theories about spatial understanding, and they learn strategies for active exploration, thinking and reasoning.”

While kindergarten is all about making friends and playing together, sometimes there’s also a need, or want, for some quiet, independent play. That’s where puzzles come into the picture.

It’s a great way to sit and work on something by yourself, without adult intervention or that of your peers – and sometimes children want that.

Getting little ‘pockets’ of their own time helps to foster the ability to learn how to entertain themselves, and not need constant external stimulation.

You’ll often see the busiest child happily spending more time than they usually would on an activity with a puzzle.

There’s nothing as satisfying as finishing a puzzle… but not completing one also has it’s benefits.

Being able to finish a puzzle is a big boost for a child’s confidence.

It can help build attention span. We know that perseverance is so critical as a child develops, and this is a fun way to assist in developing that skill. 

What’s just as important is that it creates a sense of accomplishment and reward that can be hugely satisfying. If they don’t finish it successfully, that often encourages them to try again – another great life skill. But it’s important that the puzzles are age-appropriate, and not too difficult to achieve – enough of a challenge but not too much.

Lastly, FUN.

Even many adults like to spend time relaxing with a puzzle, or doing a jigsaw, Sudoku, or crosswords. Part of this is because it concentrates the mind on something that provides short-term focus, and mindfulness. It’s a great way to calm down and chill out.

Arrange a time to come in and see our kindergarten for yourself, get to meet our kaiako and see the kindy for yourself.
Get in touch if you have any questions or want to know more. We’re here and always happy to give you the answers you need.