5 Ways Crossword Puzzles Benefit Your Child’s Brain

A cup of coffee on top of a newspaper

Crossword puzzles are typically associated with middle-aged adults or the elderly thanks to their prevalence in national newspapers catered towards adults. Crossword puzzles are also noted because of their ability to prevent or delay cognitive loss in later life.

These fun word puzzles, however, provide these same benefits for people of all ages. Learning games of any kind, especially those intended to engage children, add an element of fun and enjoyment to education. 

Anything that helps children to associate learning with fun helps the education process to become something your child looks forward to, which can establish a lifelong love of learning. Read on for several reasons to get your child into crossword puzzles for both short and long-term success. 

1. Enhance Vocabulary

Rote spelling and vocabulary memorization can easily become tedious, though the skills and knowledge gained through these processes is invaluable. A good vocabulary does a lot more than just earn a child good grades. Studies have shown that a larger vocabulary can increase mental processing speed, improve grammar skills, and expand reasoning skills – which all benefit children when it comes to several different school subjects. 

Crosswords that are designed with your child’s grade level in mind provide new ways to explore word definitions with the use of creative examples or clues in each prompt. The more words your child knows, the easier it is to process new material with speed and they will be quicker to understand the information presented to them.

2. Strengthen Problem Solving Skills

When a child is repeatedly faced with the same type of intellectual problem, it takes less and less cognitive strength to figure out a solution. The same effect can happen with the completion of each puzzle. Most crosswords present many clues with fairly obvious answers, but several of the hints require a certain amount of investigation and mental energy to solve. 

However, the more the brain attempts and succeeds at a task, the stronger those mental pathways become. As your child exercises their mental muscles, their brain becomes stronger and better equipped to tackle bigger, more difficult problems.

3. Elevate Mood and Wellbeing

Scientists have discovered that crosswords have a positive effect on feelings of anxiety and stress. This is because the brain’s reward center releases an important neurotransmitter, known as dopamine, that directly impacts motivation and mood. Crosswords provide the opportunity for many small successes throughout the puzzle, and with each small victory comes the opportunity for an overall heightened sense of wellbeing.

Accomplishments of these kinds can give your child a self-esteem boost, too. A crossword takes a considerable amount of patience and persistence to complete, which makes its completion highly gratifying when it’s fully solved. 

4. Increase Mental Sharpness

Crosswords can powerfully influence your child’s memory and cognition. Word puzzles have long been regarded as excellent ways for older adults to maintain youthful brain function and memory. A London study revealed that as its participants solved more crosswords with regularity, their brains performed as though they were approximately ten years younger. 

Children that begin with crosswords at a younger age have the opportunity to approach their own cognition and mental acuity proactively rather than reactively later in life. 

5. Have Fun 

In the modern world, a great number of things seem to demand attention all at the same time. With both physical and virtual distractions around every corner, it can be difficult, and often overwhelming, to try to block out every potential interruption. 

Crosswords are often a positive escape from an otherwise noisy world. These puzzles present a chance to sit down and engage with something enjoyable, which does more to positively occupy your child’s brain than more passive activities such as watching television. When done with a partner, the process of working out a solution even provides an opportunity to build positive bonds between solvers. 

To get your child started with crosswords, look to our inventory for downloadable puzzles designed to make learning fun. Old School WXP has crosswords for grades 3 through 12, so there is something for a variety of ages and skill levels.