How Math Games and Puzzles Improve Your Child’s Cognitive Abilities
As humanity evolves, basic skill requirements have expanded to include sound cognitive abilities like critical thinking, logical reasoning, and problem-solving. Although these cognitive skills have existed for as long as humans have, they are presently fundamental requirements in almost all walks of life, both in job positions and schoolwork. Honing these skills in children is, therefore, essential for their survival. Thankfully, through mental exercise tools such as puzzles and math games, children’s cognitive abilities can be improved pretty easily. A study shows that the periodic use of games and puzzles in classrooms helps increase students’ cognitive ability scores and improves their attitude towards problem-solving.
Math Games and Puzzles
Math games and puzzles provide a structure for children to engage their cognitive functions such as decision-making, attention, creativity, recollection, and problem-solving to reach a goal. A game or puzzle is a toy or activity designed to provide an interesting challenge that requires deep thinking, ingenuity, and, sometimes, persistence to find a solution. It can necessitate children to work out strategies and plans to reach a specific goal or find a solution.
The great thing about math games and puzzles is that they appeal to children because of how fun they can be. Children love to explore, test, question, and experiment. Therefore, allowing them to do so builds their cognitive skills. Math games and puzzles come in many shapes, sizes, and colours. They can take the form of equations, riddles, or exercises that children enjoy. While being fun, they can greatly benefit children’s cognitive development. Some all-time favourite puzzles for children are crosswords, jigsaws, Rubik’s Cubes, and connect-the-dots. Math games, such as dice games or Prodigy, allow children to experiment with different combinations and sequences of numbers to arrive at answers. Beyond developing cognitive skills, group math games and puzzles create avenues for children to relate to one another, building their teamwork and social skills.
It should be noted that cognitive abilities overlap in their functions. This means that to build a holistic set of cognitive skills, every ability needs to be focused on. Therefore, it is best practice to explore a wide range of puzzles and math games. SharpBrains says that cognitive abilities are “brain-based skills we need to carry out any task from the simplest to the most complex. They have more to do with the mechanisms of how we learn, remember, problem-solve, and pay attention.” Cognitive abilities include critical thinking, working memory, pattern recognition, cognitive flexibility and control, information processing, anticipation, decision making, hand-eye processing and coordination, attention, perception, language, motor skills, and logical reasoning.
Problem-solving is probably the hallmark of all cognitive skills that relate to games and puzzles. Games and puzzles are great ways for children to practice and develop problem-solving since the end goal is almost always to find a solution. The whole process of analyzing the game or puzzle, circumspectly creating strategies, and finally deciding on a solution is what problem-solving is. This may sound complex, but children do this all the time in their own way.
Imagine a shape sorting game for which the end goal is for a child to sort all the shapes into their equivalent holes. While trying to figure out which hole each shape goes into, a child would probably try to put one shape into the different holes s/he sees. If s/he tries one and realizes that it doesn’t fit, s/he moves on the next one and continues until s/he finds the right hole. By doing this, the child is engaging in logical reasoning. The realization that a square shape cannot fit a triangular hole is a basic application of logic. In addition, the child’s hand-eye coordination would be significantly enhanced. The beauty in this is that if a child does this a few more times, s/he would know each shape’s rightful position without even thinking about it due to his/her working memory. This remarkable feat is the same in all kinds of math games, puzzles, and other activities. In contrast, another child might figure out the correct shape on the first try by engaging his/her strategic thinking and information processing skill.
Finally, while it is a great idea to engage a child with different activities, too many activities might cause a burnout. Many schools have a grasp of the right time and amount of puzzles and games to get children involved in. Nevertheless, as a parent or guardian, you can still engage your children at home with math games and puzzles with the help of some great websites. Such websites provide parents with fun, easy-to-learn, and engaging math games and puzzles for their kids.