What I’ve learned from my toddler’s love for puzzles

Little Nugget has recently acquired a great appreciation for puzzles, specifically floor puzzles. Let me just be frank and say that I am relieved because he has something to keep him occupied other than watching television. Coloring and other indoor activities only keep him entertained for so long. Puzzles have been such a blessing.

Little Nugget started with 24 piece puzzles and is now working on 48+ piece puzzles including a USA map puzzle he chose from the book store. (I gave him the option to choose any book he wanted, and instead of a book, he walked out with a 51 piece puzzle of the USA. I couldn’t help but chuckle at my kid.)

With a great appreciation for puzzles comes great responsibility. I’m kidding. It just sounded cool to say. What it does come with is growth (and lots of it). I’ve seen growth in Little Nugget and me. Here are a few things that I’ve learned from Little Nugget’s love for puzzles:

Allowing Little Nugget to watch television will not close him off to other interests.
I battle with constant internal guilt thinking that I’m letting Little Nugget watch too much television that it’s rotting his brain. When I catch him building puzzles on his own instead of being asked to turn on the television, I feel some reassurance that I’m not doing all that bad.

The first time building the puzzle will always be the hardest.
The first time for anything will always be the hardest, especially for a child who is experiencing life for the first time. The first time building a puzzle will take me longer than any subsequent building period. Sometimes I forget this and expect Little Nugget to know more than he has experienced. Puzzles have really humbled me as a parent. Funny but true.

It’s alright to help Little Nugget build the puzzle.
This automatically leads into the next one.

Keep my expectations in check!
This was not an easy task at first as I expected my child to be the master puzzle builder I egotistically wanted him to be. Again, puzzles have humbled me. They’ve helped me know that it’s not about me, it’s about helping my child learn and grow in a healthy and confident manner.

Little Nugget likes to push my buttons, or so it seems like he does. I’m realizing that it isn’t so much that he intends to test my patience rather him just wanting my company, so he asks me to help him with the puzzles even when I know he can do them on his own. I’m learning to let dirty dishes happen and enjoy puzzle-making time with Little Nugget. (I don’t know how long he’ll want my help or company for.)

How to teach Little Nugget about “above”, “below”, “besides”, “next to”, patterns, and shapes (door and key).
It makes my heart so happy to see Little Nugget recognizing directional words, colors, letters, numbers, and patterns. It’s taken time, practice, and patience, but I’m happy we’ve found a platform to teach and learn such things together.

I’ve always loved building puzzles myself, but have never really made time for them. I’m happy that they’ve re-appeared in my life. I look forward to nurturing this appreciation and developing the skill alongside Little Nugget.

Cheers to puzzles!

Here are our favorite puzzle-makers:
Melissa and Doug
The Learning Journey
I love these two companies when it comes to puzzles because their puzzles are hardy, educational, and can be found at places like Ross or Marshalls for a few dollars less than their retails sites.

Other puzzle-maker recommendations welcome.


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