71 Monell Avenue
Islip, NY 11751

T: 631-581-5933

F: 631.277.8429

71 Monell Avenue
Islip, NY 11751
T: 631-581-5933
F: 631-581-8429

71 Monell Avenue
Islip, NY 11751

T: 631-581-5933 

F: 631-581-8429


Archive Monthly Archives: November 2016

Puzzle Play and Child Development

The Best Kind of Learning is the Kind that’s Wrapped Up in a Game.

While puzzles may seem like mere child’s play, researchers have discovered they are an important link in the cognitive development of young children. Researchers at the University of Chicago have found that children who play with puzzles between the ages of two and four develop better spatial and other important skills, including mathematical skills.

With almost 400 circulating puzzles available, the Islip Public Library is one of only a few libraries in Suffolk County that permits patrons to take up to five puzzles home for a week. Recently, the Library has expanded its puzzle lending policy to include out-of-district patrons, and renewals for an additional week for each puzzle checked out. In the supportive environment of their own homes, parents and children can play together to enrich a toddler’s learning capacity and other skills.

Additionally, there are more than 30 puzzles, from large-knob puzzles, to mix-and-match puzzles, to alphabet puzzles, and more, suitable for infants to kindergarteners for in-library play.

Psychologist Susan Levine, a professor at the University of Chicago and a leading expert on mathematics development in young children, believes that children who play with puzzles perform better on tasks that are indicators of future math skills. Parents who interact with their children during puzzle play further advance their children’s future skills in several different areas. Very young children can be guided by their parents, while pre-schoolers and kindergarteners enjoy putting puzzles together on their own.

Levine is the lead author of an academic paper studying children and parents as they engaged in puzzle play. For the research, 53 parent-child pairs from diverse socioeconomic backgrounds participated in a study in which researchers video-recorded parent-child interactions for 90-minute sessions that occurred every four months between children aged 26 to 46 months old. Researchers determined that children who play with puzzles at home improve future math-related skills.

​Other researchers have learned that puzzle play increases fine motor development in young children, skills that eventually help with handwriting, drawing and even playing a musical instrument. Manipulating both large and small pieces of puzzles into the proper place requires eye-hand coordination, a most important skill in child development.

Larger puzzles can be solved by two or more children, which in turn helps increase a child’s social skills. Solving puzzles as a group helps youngsters understand patience, teamwork and taking turns, according to an article on Huffington Post online. The Islip Public Library circulating puzzle collection includes a number of intricate layered puzzles, which are ideally suited for group puzzle solving.

​Research indicates that toddlers who work on puzzles often progress to jigsaw puzzles and larger floor-sized puzzles, which are available online and in toy stores at nominal cost. Crossword, game and logic puzzles challenge children and aid in their cognitive development. Some good sources of puzzles for all ages is Amazon (https://www.amazon.com/Best-Sellers-Toys-Games-Toddler-Puzzles/zgbs/toys-and-games/196611011), and Lakeshore Education Products (http://products.lakeshorelearning.com/learning/Wooden-Puzzles). The website for Fine Wooden toys offers Melissa & Doug puzzles, which make a variety of interesting puzzles (http://www.finewoodentoys.com/). Very high-quality handmade solid wood puzzles are available for sale at Kidpuzzles (http://www.kidpuzzles.com/).

Best Sellers in Toddler Puzzles - amazon.com​

Discover the best Toddler Puzzles in Best Sellers. Find the top 100 most popular items in Amazon Toys & Games Best Sellers.

Fine Wooden Toys and Wooden Puzzles for Babies and Young ...

At Fine Wooden Toys we offer a beautiful and unique selection of hundreds of top-quality educational and developmental wooden toys, blocks and puzzles for babies ...

Wooden Puzzles - Lakeshore Learning Materials

Wooden Puzzles found in: Lakeshore Preschool Puzzle Library with Rack, Wild Animals Puzzle Set, Big Knob First Puzzle Set, Chunky Puzzles Set...

Perhaps most importantly, puzzle play gives beginning learners a huge sense of accomplishment. Watching toddlers put the last piece into a puzzle is a wonderful sight. Puzzles are fun, educational toys that challenge young minds, and the Islip Public Library’s puzzle collection helps its youngest patrons achieve important skills.

The Picky Eater

When my son was younger, I thought of him as my “prickly pear.” On certain topics he had to be approached in a particular way to elicit cooperation. Looking back now, I believe that he had sensitivity issues that were glimpsed but not fully comprehended, i.e. not liking the beach because of the feel of the sand, anxiety when traveling (worried about getting lost) and a most definite aversion to most foods. Almost every situation could be negotiated with reason, comedy and positive peer pressure -he has a great sense of humor and a very social aspect to his personality, as well as an older brother who could sometimes talk him into doing fun family things. Eating poorly, however, because of its very life and death nature, was an area that for me was fraught with dangerous consequences.

A great part of nurturing, of course, involves food and the role it plays in the life of a healthy and thriving child. However, when our best efforts are thwarted by what seems to be mere stubbornness on the part of our offspring, it can be frustrating and hurtful, especially if we see resistance as a reflection of our parenting skills. It’s easy to see how food then becomes so inextricably entwined with our emotions, usually love. If we can take a step back and look at what else may be happening with the child, we may be able to employ strategies for de-escalating the conflicts arising at mealtimes. You might find that being a little flexible helps lessen the stress and signals to the child that you are paying attention to what their aversion to certain foods may signify. Of course, the issue is a complex one with many variations on the theme, depending upon the individual child and family, but, if it is any consolation, know that you are not alone!

With that thought in mind, there are a plethora of resources with ideas for making those food-related interactions more bearable.

This is just a small sampling of the many online sites a desperate parent could find useful. Some also cite additional sources for further information on the topic.

Of course, here at the library, there are print resources for parents
(please check our catalog):
For the kiddos themselves, we have many non-fiction, highly-illustrated books that talk about nutrition and the importance of eating healthy foods:
Here are some colorful and instructional gardening books to let them understand where certain foods come from and to help grow them:

Cookbooks geared toward children with simple and fun recipes so that they help create what goes in their mouths:
Fiction authors use picky eaters as characters in their usually humorous stories:

Hopefully, with all this advice now available, parents and children will be able to reach a peaceful accord and make mealtime a much more harmonious occasion. As for my son, he has reached the ripe old age of 25 by eating snow-covered trees (cauliflower), olives (pitted, slip on fingers), elbow macaroni (the only acceptable shape), and spoonfuls of peanut butter, and, even though you would have to tie him down to make him eat cheese (involves mold, utterly disgusting) he still manages to be one of the healthiest people I know!

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