An essential component in education and in life, curiosity drives us to learn new things and discover how things work around us. While there are various ways to stimulate our own curiosity, it is crucial that we encourage curiosity in our children while they’re young. In the words of one of the most famous intellectuals:
“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing.”
– Albert Einstein
“Stimulating your child’s curiosity is a wonderful gift because it enables them to continually learn, grow and question the world they live in,” author of the Molly Moccasin books, Victoria Ryan O’Toole, shares with HowToLearn.com. She further explains that curiosity also helps children develop a healthy imagination and a sense of creativity, as well as acts as a stepping stone towards a successful future.
While most children are curious by nature and will always be up to discovering new things, there are others who need help to stimulate their curiosity. To help you along, here are some things you can do to encourage your children’s curiosity during the early years:
1. Answer their questions
Answering your child’s 1,002 questions every day can prove to be a challenge, but the last thing you want to do is to reply with a “Because I said so” or “Because that’s how it works” for convenience’s sake. Not only will this confuse her further, it will also discourage her from putting her learning and thinking caps on.
As much as possible, try to give your child an answer and engage her by discussing about the topic further. If you don’t know the answer to her question, you can suggest that both of you work together to find out. Do get her to contribute ideas on the possible places to look for answers (i.e. books, magazines or the Internet). At the end of the day, you’d want to assure your child that it pays to be curious and learn about how things work.
2. Be curious yourself
Your children learn best from observing what you do, so do take this chance to role model and pique their curiosity. Make it a point to raise questions that serve as a learning point for them as you go about the day’s activities. For example, while cooking dinner, you could ask “This sauce makes the stir-fry taste so yummy. I wonder what’s in it?” or “Why does the rainbow appear after that heavy downpour?”. You can brainstorm with your children on the possible answers, and then do some research together to find the right answers.
See also: Play is Important in More Ways Than One
3. Break away from routine
While having a set routine of activities helps to keep the day running smoothly, making small tweaks in your children’s daily activities can help to stimulate their thinking and encourage their curiosity and creativity. For example, you can change their daily breakfast menu (i.e. from the usual omelet with toast to blueberry pancakes) to expose them to new dishes and flavours. From here, get them to share with you on which one they like better and what other dishes they would like to start the day with.
4. Let them pursue their interests
Drawn by her curiosity, your child will show interest in certain activities and topics. Although you may have expectations when it comes to activities that are deemed appropriate for your child, do give her some freedom to explore those that she is interested in as well. Your child’s interest and curiosity paves way for learning which opens her mind to knowledge and new experiences. So, instead of saying to her “Stop playing the guitar and focus on your homework”, go on and encourage her by going through online tutorials to perfect her strumming.
5. Share open-ended stories
There are many ways to freshen up your children’s bedtime story routine and spur their creativity in the process. Instead of reading the same stories numerous times – although they can’t seem to get enough of it – try making it more fun by leaving the ending up to their imagination. Besides this, you can also get them to think of a new title and create a different beginning of the story to better retain their interest and attention in the story.
See also: How to Raise a Child Who Loves to Read
6. Visit new places
Visiting new places (e.g. a foreign country or a different neighbourhood/state) opens up your child to a world of new experiences and stimulates their curiosity. Through this, she will be able to experience new cultures and being in a different environment than the one she is used to, as well as witness how other people live. This certainly beats relying on documentaries on TV or turning to books or online videos for answers to her questions.
7. Leave little surprises
From a short note stuck on their lunchbox to wish them a good day at school to having a surprise guest over for dinner, positive surprises do wonders to boost your child’s mood and drive their curiosity. This experience will stimulate their thinking as they ask themselves questions such as “When did mum/dad slipped in that note?” and “How did they manage to track down our previous neighbor and invite him/her for dinner?”.
8. Cut out the B-word
The last thing you want to do is to lead your child to think that boredom is the easy way out, so do be extra careful about labelling activities or situations as “boring”. When a routine activity gets to a point of being monotonous, encourage your child’s curiosity to look at it from a different light and find new ways to make it interesting. For people who are constantly curious, there is always something new to learn, discover and understand – even if that something has been done over a dozen times.
Written by Justina Goh
Find out how children are encouraged to be a life-long learner, among other life lessons, during their time at MindChamps PreSchool.