Did you know that puzzles are great for kids self-esteem? Solving puzzles such as crosswords is a great activity for kids to not not only help them learn; it also helps them boost their self-esteem and mental fitness. Best of all, it can often happen quite subconsciously, because they are having too much fun to notice,
Spelling long words is like solving a tricky puzzle
My favourite word in the dictionary is SESQUIPEDALIAN. I recently ran it by my 9 year old nephew. His jaw dropped, and he asked incredulously… “what does that mean?”
Sesquipedalian means words that contain lots of syllables. Here are some examples: MULTIPLICATION, COLLOQUIALISM, CINEMATOGRAPHY. Can you think of a ‘sesquipedalian’ word?
Learning to spell a long word with lots of syllables can be like solving a puzzle in itself. This is where learning to solve codewords comes in very useful. By studying the numerical patterns, you become accustomed to which letters go together. With a codeword, although the numerical sequence is random in each puzzle, the patterns are set and constant.
For example 1=I, 2=N, 3-G, so if there are several words in the grid ending with ING you will see 123. This will remind you that ING is a common word ending. It might be a different numerical pattern in a different puzzle, but it is a (language) concept you have learnt and will remember.
I am often reminded of when I was about 7, my grandmother gave me a challenge, which was to learn how to spell two words that were not included on the Grade 1 Spelling List, They were GOVERNMENT and AMAZEMENT.
I spent considerable time doing this over the ensuing few weeks with my mother testing me and encouraging me along the way. When I finally felt ready to spell out the words with sufficient confidence, I did so, and my grandmother was very pleased.
Solving puzzles gives kids a sense of achievement
I was very happy too because I was now able to spell these words. I had also achieved a personal goal. It’s a small thing, but once children have solved some puzzles successfully, and have experienced the sense of achievement that comes with doing so, they will want to do more and more, This boosts their self-esteem, and at the same time their knowledge, which is fantastic. It keeps their brains and minds active, and they have fun learning. It is also good for their mental fitness.
Looking back to those two challenging words from my childhood, I am wondering how much easier it would have been if I had been able learn how to spell them using what I call the Alphabet Code, 1=A, 2=B 3=C and so on
GOVERNMENT = 7 15 22 5 18 14 13 5 14 20
AMAZEMENT = 1 13 1 26 5 13 5 14 20
This is how these words would have looked, and is the basis of learning how to solve codewords. And even though they are completely different words, there are some similar patterns. For example you now know that ENT are three letters that go together.
Helping your child to learn
Effective learning for every child is vital, as is building mental fitness and self-esteem. Your role as a parent, teacher or close relative (grandparent, aunt or uncle) is a very important part of this process.
Be prepared to sit down and solve puzzles with them. As we all cope with the effects of a global pandemic, where we need to remain indoors for extended periods, puzzles are great games to play together and provide an excellent way for children to feel connected. Give verbal encouragement to your children when they successfully complete a puzzle, and be ready to try something more challenging with them. There are always more codes to crack and new words to add to their vocabulary.
Playing games and solving puzzles is a wonderful way to boost the whole family’s self-esteem as well as spend quality time together.