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Something as simple as playing with puzzles can affect your child's math skills in school. " It is an important context for figuring out problems through reasoning,"say researchers at University of Chicago who conducted a recent study with children ages 2-4. They found that children who play with puzzles have better spatial skills when assessed at 4 1/2 years of age. Researchers note that there are gender differences on some spatial tasks (particularly involving mental rotation of objects,) which are noted as early as preschool and into adulthood. These differences are interesting to researchers because of their relation to mathematics achievement."It is important because this and follow-up studies could potentially lead to relatively easy and inexpensive interventions to improve spatial skills important for education in science."The children who played with puzzles performed better than those who did not on tasks that assessed their ability to rotate and translate shapes," said one researcher.
So....after nap time, or dinner time, or anytime in between, take out a puzzle. Talk to your child while you are putting the puzzle together. Share your strategies and give them lots of time to practice (of course, keep the puzzles age appropriate and the whole experience light and fun). Puzzles make great gifts and another way to spend quality time with your child.
More information on the study is available in Developmental Science, Feb 2011
1. Susan Levine et al. Early Puzzle Play: A Predictor of Preschoolers' Spatial Transformation Skill. Developmental Science, Feb 2012 (in press)Top of Form