With winter now well and truly on it’s way, we’re going to be spending a lot more time indoors.
What can you do to keep the kids entertained without the whole day turning into a tech fest? Simple…..
Just choose something that’s fun, makes kids think and gives them a tangible reward at the end of their endeavours. You probably already have one of these boredom busters lurking somewhere in the house! On a recent wet weekend when helping my autistic son complete a 500 piece puzzle of the London Underground map, we re-discovered the joy of jigsaws.
The joy of jigsaws – 5 great benefits
Doing a jigsaw puzzle uses a number of cognitive skills including reasoning and problem solving. Even the simplest puzzle requires planning and thinking about where and how the pieces fit together which leads to a commitment to solving the problem and completing the task.
When working on a jigsaw puzzle we’re using memory, critical thinking and usually a lot of patience! We need to remember the shape of pieces we’ve already tried, use strategies for sorting pieces into similar types, shapes or colours and keep trying until we find exactly where every piece fits. That all requires a great deal of concentration.
Picking up pieces and having to slot them together without breaking up the rest of the puzzle can be a complex task. Puzzles require intricate coordination of hand and eye movements and can also help improve children’s understanding of colours and shapes.
The subject of the puzzle can spark conversation around the topic. A number or alphabet puzzle can reinforce learning about letters and numbers. My son is very keen on all forms of transport so the Underground puzzle prompted him to talk about related topics.
Tackling a jigsaw together is also a great social activity and gives the chance to talk and spend time together. Keeping a puzzle on the go in the living room or kitchen is a great idea and the whole family can do a little bit whenever they fancy. Especially good for keeping the channels of communication open with teenagers!
Solving a jigsaw puzzle gives a real sense of satisfaction. You will have practised goal-setting and patience as well as a number of different problem-solving strategies. Your brain will have had a fantastic work-out so it deserves to celebrate! It’s just a shame our puzzle had a few pieces missing. Still, another valuable lesson learnt – life doesn’t always fall neatly into place!
TOP TIP: Charity shops and car boot sales are both fantastic places to look for good value jigsaws. Return them to a charity shop for someone else to enjoy once you’re finished and the charity benefits again too.