Teaching Puzzles To Your Child

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Some children struggle to grasp the concept of building puzzles. Use these tips for teaching puzzles to children of any age.

Steps For Teaching Puzzles:

Why A Child May Avoid Puzzles

Follow these steps for a child who needs help getting started and figuring out what to do. These steps deal with larger puzzles (24 pieces and up).

Steps for Teaching Puzzles

The first step is always to turn over all the pieces and study the picture on the box.

Then you can choose one of these 2 methods:

I would say that neither way is “better” than the other, but if your child is used to doing the puzzle one way, it would be good to challenge him/her to do it “the other way” occasionally, in order to stretch and develop visual perceptual and planning skills.

Method 1: Outside Edge First

Step 1:

Sort out the pieces into those with straight edges and those without.

Step 2:

Find the corners and place them correctly, using the picture on the box for reference.

Step 3:

Build the outside of the puzzle first, before the inside. Show your child how to look for pieces with similar colors to match them up. This uses visual discrimination skills, as well as figure ground perception (looking for a specific piece in a sea of pieces)

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Method 2: Build Sections First

Step 1:

Group similar pieces together and build one section at a time. For example, in this Winnie-the-Pooh puzzle, the child found the Eeyore pieces and built Eeyore first.

Step 2:

Now build the next section of the puzzle. For example, I pointed out the piece of Tigger behind Eeyore, so my child could find all the Tigger pieces and build Tigger, and so on. 

Once different sections of the puzzle have been built, your child can fill in the gaps, including the outside edges.

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Most children who are familiar with puzzles will use a combination of the two methods.

Use what works for your child to foster a sense of accomplishment! And most of all, have fun!

Why A Child May Avoid Puzzles

When a child avoids or "can’t do" jigsaw puzzles, there could be a number of different reasons.

  • poor visual discrimination skills – has not yet learned to pay attention to detail
  • poor figure-ground perception – they can’t find the detail they are looking for in the sea of pieces
  • poor visual closure skills – unable to see what piece would complete the piece of the puzzle they are looking at
  • poor motor planning skills – the child simply does not know where to start. This child needs to systematically work through the steps of doing a puzzle.
  • lack of exposure to concept (deprived backgrounds)

If you suspect that your child struggles with any of the above skills, then try some of the activities for those skills before starting to teach puzzles. (Follow the underlined links above to specific activity pages)

If your child is very young, or comes from a very deprived background as my foster daughter did, then visit my page on teaching puzzles to toddlers first, and then come back here once your child has mastered up to 12 piece puzzles.

Thank you for visiting my site. Please feel free to explore my other visual perception pages!

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› Teaching Puzzles To Your Child

Honesty Point!
To help you, I have linked to a few useful products from various suppliers that reflect the activities suggested on this page.
I occasionally receive samples in exchange for an honest review, but the opinions expressed are entirely my own.
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