What’s in a Puzzle?

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>> Expert Advice from our ECE Expert: Kim Davies <<

Think about a basic, easy toddler puzzle. You know, like the one with the wooden numbers or farm animals with the bright colours and knobs to hold onto? At first, a toddler may look at the puzzle with interest and just feel the knobs. The next time they play with the puzzle, they may just take the puzzle apart and leave all the pieces scattered about on the floor. This is developmentally typical.

        With some quality “floor time” spent with an adult, the toddler may be prompted to discuss what objects are in the puzzle (shapes, animals, numbers), their colours and characteristics. Yet, even though the adult puts the pieces back into the puzzle board, the toddler will likely continue to take apart the puzzle pieces, without putting them back in.

As frustrating as this may be for the adult, they must remain patient with the toddler. In time, after having several interactions and discussions about the same puzzle, eventually the toddler will begin to want to put the puzzle pieces back to where they belong. Developmentally, a toddler needs to be cognitively ready to take this step and will not reach that stage without the opportunities for repeated practice.

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