Since the mid-1700s, jigsaw puzzles have fascinated the world. Not only are jigsaw puzzles fun to do, but they make a great – and quiet – pastime for several people to work on together. The benefits to the brain for completing jigsaw puzzles are many. Not only do both sexes benefit from doing jigsaw puzzles but also this type of game aids the developing brains of children whether the format is board, cardboard, or online puzzles.
There has been some recent and excellent research regarding how males relate to one another. In light of today’s perspective on aggression, we can help males continue to relate and bond with one another through a variety of activities – not just sports – and without video games. As the research points out, males tend to form relationship bonds while participating in a tandem activities – this means that instead of sitting and talking face-to-face, generally men prefer to disclose information and build relational ties while sitting side by side, watching television, playing sports, or playing video games. It is not always possible or preferable to have active and/or violent play, so a jigsaw puzzle provides a great alternative activity. Perhaps more engaging to males is an online jigsaw puzzle format. There are currently excellent websites like Jigsaw Planet that provide quality free online jigsaw puzzles.
By contrast, females place high value on building relationships by sitting face-to-face and sharing information, emotions, and opinions in order to create a strong relational bond. Puzzles are also ideal for this type of relationship building as well. While online jigsaw puzzles could be an enjoyable activity for female bonding, more likely two or more women would enjoy quality time spent around a 3500 piece Ravensburger puzzle masterpiece.
While adults the world over may enjoy a good jigsaw puzzle either online or in the classic format, where researchers really see puzzles benefit the brain is in the cognitive development of children. There is a plethora of ways that puzzles, either online jigsaw puzzles or the classic style jigsaw puzzles like Ravensburger puzzles benefit the brain.
Research shows that cognitive development is influenced based on how a person affects the world around them. Both classic jigsaw puzzles and online jigsaw puzzles allow children to work directly with their surroundings in this key manner.
The action of fitting pieces either together with an online jigsaw puzzle or with a classic style puzzle does much to improve hand-eye coordination of children. As children flip, rotate, remove and otherwise manipulate the pieces, their brain learns the subtleties of how pieces fit together. As their eyes process the puzzle pieces, their brain is busy predicting which pieces go where, and in what orientation. Their hands act to manipulate the pieces, both feeding new data to the brain and carrying out the brain’s commands for trial and error.
Both fine and gross motor skills are developed when children are exposed to both cardboard jigsaw puzzles and digital puzzles (there are several quality sites that access free online jigsaw puzzles). Simply by moving the puzzle pieces, children gain gross motor experience and cognition, whereas manipulating the pieces in order to fit them together develops a child’s fine motor abilities. A well-developed set of fine motor skills allows for proficient writing, typing, and different types of play.
In addition to puzzles developing physical control, jigsaw puzzles also enhance other aspects of cognition.
Shape recognition and discrimination is an important early cognitive skill for children and completing jigsaw puzzles enhances this skill. Recognizing shapes is inherently rewarded by being able to finish the puzzle! Both classic and online jigsaw puzzles also help hone the skills of problem-solving and working memory. The stronger a child can be in the realm of problem-solving, the better off they will be as they grow. As a child compares pieces of the puzzle and determines whether they fit or not, they develop this vital skill. Working memory goes hand-in-hand with problem solving. If a puzzle piece does not fit, it is set aside for later consideration but the child retains a memory of the characteristics of that piece in case it becomes needed in the next task. Finally, all these cognitive skills combine into a larger skillset that can best be described as helping children set attainable goals. Piece by piece as children build a jigsaw puzzle on the table or online, they learn goal-setting, patience, and sequential logic and deductive skills.
As you can see, jigsaw puzzles have a number of clear benefits to people of all ages and genders. No need to wait for a rainy day before opening that Ravensburger stored in the closet or logging on to the internet to do a free online jigsaw puzzle – why not start today?