Boost and Sustain Your Child’s Curiosity Through Play
Make it Real: Introduce your child to new experiences that are based in real-world learning. Nature walks, art galleries, even tasting different foods open a child’s eyes to new possibilities and reinforce learning.
Connect the Dots: Help your child develop explorative thought patterns by modeling how to think curiously about the world. Voice your questions about the world to demonstrate how to seek answers.
Play Without Parameters: Help your child cherish new discoveries by giving them unstructured, open-ended play time. Letting your child explore helps reinforce curiosity’s rewards and builds a child’s confidence to seek new discoveries or see things through a different lens.
Let Them Lead: What fascinates and delights your child should guide their questioning, experimentation, and discoveries.
Every child is born curious.
From determining how different toys work to discovering new textures and tastes, a child’s curiosity inspires exploration and eventual understanding of the world. Children question, hypothesize, experiment, and determine answers through daily interactions with their surroundings.
As the most significant role model in a child’s life, parents are key in helping a child develop and sustain a curious outlook. Much of a child’s lifetime desire to explore, question, and interpret the world begins with the level of value parents place upon curiosity. For this reason, it is important parents create an environment that encourages and nurtures a child’s natural curiosity.
Why does curiosity matter?
Curiosity inspires a sense of wonder about the world as well as a sense of purpose. It signifies imagination and exploration are of value and are rewarded. It also lays a foundation for future learning and solidifies the skills needed for success throughout life.
Curiosity is thought to beget strong academic skills. Recent child development research suggests a direct correlation between a child’s level of curiosity and academic performance in math and reading. This may be because a curiosity-led approach to learning allows the child’s interests and questions to remain at the forefront, resulting in students who are more self-motivated, engaged, and flexible in adapting to the needs of their learning.
How can parents ensure a child’s curiosity flourishes?
First, parents can establish an environment in which curiosity is valued and rewarded. When parents create an environment that encourages a child’s natural curiosity and model their own questions and interpretations of the world, they instill in a child the idea that curiosity is important, attainable, normal, and vital. Establishing a foundation for a curious life should begin in a child’s infancy and continue throughout a child’s development.
Second, determine ways in which your child can utilize his or her curiosity. Regularly introduce your child to new experiences and opportunities for discovery, as well as connecting learning back to skills and information a child already knows. From a walk around the block to the kitchen table, exploring with a young child should be easy, simple, and affordable. Let your child’s questions and interests guide your outings, play, and new discoveries.
Third, gently guide your child to ask, hypothesize, experiment, and determine results related to their interests. Model your own thoughts and questions aloud to teach curious thinking and results. In very young children, this may look like simple games, questions, or an introduction to new experiences. For example, ask “I wonder how many blocks we can stack before the tower falls?”; “What do you think will happen next in the story?”; “What do you notice is different about this animal and that one? Even if your child cannot yet speak, they are listening and learning how to frame their thinking through a parent’s modeled behavior.
Lastly, be patient and realistic about outcomes. Children are already naturally curious. Your job is simply to emphasize and encourage a child’s natural tendency to explore. By valuing exploration and questioning, you are positioning your child for a lifetime of curious thinking.
We are unable to determine what the future will require of our children as they grow into adulthood. However, by celebrating and rewarding our children’s exploration and new discoveries today, we provide them with the bedrock for a lifetime of learning and the tools necessary to meet the needs of their future.