Albert Einstein, who is known as an intellectual genius once said, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.” In fact, many individuals who are seen as ‘intellectuals’ were often described as curious. Do you know what other group of people are described as curious…children.
As a mother of an almost 1 yr. old, a 3 yr. old and an 8 yr. old, I can with extreme certainty, and not needing any science to back me, say that children are born curious. They remain curious for as long as we foster that curiosity. Think of a baby. Once they get out of the newborn stage, they are ready to explore. They constantly want to explore the world. They use their senses to experience the world. Much of their day is spent being curious! They find different ways to look at, taste, touch, and hear the things that interest them. It may be as simple as banging their spoon accidentally on their high chair tray. They bang it, hear the sound, and do it again because their curiosity has been peeked and they like what they hear!
Our children need a safe space in which to be curious. When we encourage our children to be curious, whether it is reading books on topics of interest, making potions in the back yard, or simply asking questions, we are encouraging them to keep their minds active. We are moving them away from passive thinking and making them more active thinkers.
Children who are more curious are also more observant. They notice more. Whether it be in their environment, or in the solving of a math problem, their curiosity encourages them to look at things from a different perspective.
So how exactly can you nurture curiosity in your children?
1. Remember that children learn through play. Encourage unstructured play time in which they can follow their interests and spend time doing activities that peak their curiosity.
2. Allow your child to lead. When playing with your child, allow them to take the lead so that you can encourage their curiosity.
3. Model curiosity. Spend times sharing with your child things that peak your curiosity. This may be on a walk outside, or while watching a television program. Think aloud and wonder.
4. Answer their questions. Try your best to answer their questions in an age appropriate way. You may not have all the answers, and this is fine, but we are lucky to live in an era where information can be found extremely quickly. Perhaps make a point of looking up the information together.
5. Ask open ended questions. Stimulate your child’s imagination and thought process by asking open ended questions. Encourage active thinking and the making of connections.
6. Redirect, don’t discourage. It isn’t uncommon to find a child going down a road of curiosity that you are not comfortable with. Find ways to redirect interests rather than discourage.