From Puzzles to Publication
While I enjoy detours off the puzzling path to write other things, I always come back because I love it, and I think puzzles are important.
You've probably seen health articles on how puzzles are exercise for the brain and a good way to keep aging brains sharp. Luminosity is a website that provides mental workouts to improve memory and cognition while contributing to brain research with participant results.
Puzzles are effective brain-developers, too. I even think they're an important alternative path to literacy.
From Puzzles to Literacy
Puzzles—math, word, logic, you name it—approach words, ideas, and literacy in a roundabout way. They highlight the drama of language, the absurdities, the bizarre, and the fun. Puzzles tease us, make us laugh, challenge us, and surprise us. In short, they entertain us while leading us to our destination: literacy.
When kids solve puzzles they learn to play with words. They get comfortable with them and enjoy them. They learn that sometimes words don't mean what they seem to mean and that sometimes they can mean more than one thing. Discovering the complexity of words introduces kids to their beauty, revealing what's clever and what's funny. When kids embrace words as play things, they aren't intimidated by them.
Like unfamiliar roads, puzzles have an air of mystery. We don't know where they're going, but we're eager to find out. In the process of solving the mystery, kids learn how to think.
The challenges posed by puzzles can encourage us to step back and take a panoramic view of a problem, searching for a new perspective. Learning to try different approaches and to see things from new angles teaches kids flexible thinking and persistence, useful skills as they tackle more difficult words and text.
We all want kids to reach a place where they can read and write effectively. How they get there doesn't matter. Providing alternate routes entices more kids to find their way.
Do you solve puzzles? Do you provide puzzle books for the kids in your life?
Have you ever wrapped a present in a puzzle? No? Stick around. I'll show you how!
In addition to reading, writing, and puzzling, Jen Funk Weber designs needlework at Funk & Weber Designs. She enjoys hiking, gardening, watching wildlife, baking bread, and pretty much every craft on the planet.