Puzzles and Giftedness
By Inderbir Kaur Sandhu, Ph.D
My child is 3 years 10 months old. He likes puzzle very
much, and he can now make 96 pieces puzzle by himself in 30
minutes without looking at the picture, all by his memory.
Sometimes, I feels he has very good memory in remembering
what I said long ago, in playing the "IQ concept", and other
IQ games. My questions are:
Is it considered gifted?
how can i explore his potential in this way?
Is it good to let a young kid to play such a long, intensive
mind game like 96 pieces puzzle?
A: Many gifted children have
been known to solve puzzles at rather early stages. So it is
one of the gifted traits a child may have, though the
absence is not indication of non-giftedness.
It is quite hard to tell the ages and pieces of puzzles
appropriate for children. A ball park figure for a three
year old would be 48 pieces and that is usually a very large
floor puzzle or lower at 30 pieces large puzzles with a
distinct shape (e.g., an animal). To help the average child,
there is a limit to the possible combinations of fitting the
pieces together and the shapes usually provide enough clues
to help children put the puzzle together. Puzzles with
large, thick pieces are easier for younger children to work
than puzzles with small piece due to their developing fine
motor skills. This is based on the typical recommendations
for puzzles by the manufacturers.
Your son appears to be very advanced in solving puzzles as
many as 96 pieces though this may not be unusual for most
gifted children at his age or even younger. This is an
indication of giftedness, especially with his exceptional
You can explore his potential by gradually increasing the
level of difficulty of the puzzles. Gifted children love
challenges so when the puzzles become too easy, they lose
interest. Puzzles can be used to help his master other
logical and reasoning skills in a variety of activities.
Tangrams puzzles are a good way of occupying them. Tangram
is an ancient Chinese puzzle. It is sometimes called “seven
pieces of cleverness”. The object of the puzzle is to
rearrange the pieces of a square (the puzzle pieces) to form
figures (like a picture of a cat) using the tangram pieces.
There are many levels of difficulties and you need to help
determine which may be suitable. (Google “tangram” for a
variety of worksheets/activities). You can also download a
mosaic puzzle which children find most interesting.
However, as much as he enjoys it, too much of one thing can
be detrimental and in this case the skills learnt are
limited after some time. There is also a possibility of
boredom after a while. Explore other activities that he may
enjoy such as blocks that encourage creativity, music,
sporting activities and activities that involve social
interaction. Reading is also a good way to help develop his
interests. My best wishes to you both!