Developing Visual Skills for Reading in Young Children

Jigsaw puzzles are a good way to develop visual memory skills in young children. For very young children, begin with wooden puzzles with knobs and very few pieces. These knobs are designed to help develop the muscles for the tripod grip needed for writing.

As the toddler develops, work with puzzles with an increased number of pieces. Try to find puzzles with good contrast. I particularly like Ravensburger puzzles. Tuesday Morning off has them at a reduced price, but for a good selection, check online.

As you increase the number of pieces in a puzzle, some children will work on an interior design. Others will work on the borders. If your child has difficulty with the puzzles, teach them to look for the straight edge on the border pieces, how to recognize a corner (two straight edges) and talk about what pieces you are looking for. The trick is to start out with only a few pieces and gradually work on puzzles with an increased number of pieces.

Having a puzzle available for “spare” moments is great, especially in the winter when children are indoors for longer periods of time.

Mazes are good for eye-hand coordination – and they are fun. Start with simple ones and increase in difficulty. I find that with some children, it is necessary to enlarge the designs for them to be successful and not frustrated. School supply stores and Barnes and Nobles are good sources.

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