“A curious mind is never bored”. Babies are born learners, with natural curiosity to figure out things around them. They have an eagerness to explore, discover, and find out how the world works. Curiosity is not “made” in a child by the parents or caregivers or they don’t need to push their children to learn. Research has shown that it is their inherent internal desire to learn or curiosity and not any amount of external pressure that motivates them to learn and seek out new experiences. Success in school over long term has also been shown by research to be due to your child’s internal curiosity to learn.
Tips to Encourage Curiosity in Children
As a parent you should encourage your child’s curiosity and not curb it to maintain his or her healthy interest in the world surrounding them. Some ways in which you can encourage your child’s curiosity are:
Be a Good Role Model: Your child does everything he or she sees you doing. So take advantage of this behavious to increase their curiosity. Ask aloud questions that come into your head when you are with them and then together try and figure out the answers. If in the search of an answer more questions pop up then address them also instead of letting them be. Your child will learn from you not to hesitate to ask questions and try to find the answers.
Actually Answer Questions: Don’t answer your child’s questions with non-answers such as “Because I said so” or “That’s just the way things are”. It may be that sometimes you do not have the energy or the time to answer every single question but explain that to your child. Tell them that you will answer his or her queries soon and in the meantime why doesn’t he or she try to find out the answer on their own. If you don’t know the answer to something then don’t make up facts. Tell your baby honestly that you do not know the answer and would he like to find out together. Let your child understand that his or her curiosity will be rewarded in the long run.
Encourage your Child’s Interest: Your child’s curiosity will lead him or her naturally towards subjects and topics that are of interest to them. Do not squelch this budding interest by trying to enforce on them interests that seem worthwhile to you. Too many rebuffs and restrictions will tell your child that their curiosity and interests are not important enough to pursue. Instead help them to pursue their interests by looking up for books or tutorials so that they understand that it is good to pursue their curiosity and interests.
Give your Child Curiosity Tools: Give your kids the ability to pursue their curiosity on their own. Try to build a good stock of books at your home as well as getting them membership in the local library. When it is age appropriate introduce your child to the internet with parental control to allow them to quench their curiosity – be it on outer space and aliens or ancient Rome and Greece. Let your child have a special notebook where he or she can jot down all the questions that pop into their heads and then search for the answers together. This could be a fun learning activity for the entire family and let you spend time together. When on vacation let your child take photos of objects or people or places that make him or her curious.
Make your Home Stimulating for your Child: It doesn’t mean that you have to turn your house into a playground. It is good to remember that children are more interested in visual, aural and other sensory stimulations which is why very young kids climb up on, pick up and put in their mouths objects that attract their curiosity. Once your child is older don’t just let him or her sit in front of the TV or play video games engage them in activities around the house which would allow them to go through old photographs, magazines or souvenirs from vacations. This could serve as a good talking point between you and your child and also spark his or her curiosity in some new subject.
Don’t Micromanage: Refrain from telling your child exactly how to do things. Let him or her engage in open-ended play. Let them figure things out by themselves. Also don’t label what your child is doing instead ask him or her to explain it to you. The answers can be fascinating.
Let your child make mistakes: As parents our tendency is to prevent our kids from feeling disappointment, hurt, discouraged or rejected. But making mistakes and pulling themselves up again keeps your child curious and resilient. As long as your child isn’t in any physical danger let him or her make their choices. Avoid stepping in and instead offer guidance and encouragement when they are looking for it.
Fight Boredom: Your child learns from you. When you label any activity or situation as “boring” they too will learn that only. It will also teach them that boredom is ok. Instead encourage your child to find something interesting for all of you to do when they are not feeling stimulated.
Teach them how to observe: When you are with them encourage them to look around themselves and notice things that seem interesting, mysterious, exciting, etc. Teach them to look for the small details also and not just the big picture. Quiz your child at the end of any outing about what you all saw. This will make your child more observant as they will try and remember more details. Games also work such as “Spot the Difference” and “Which is not like the Others”.
Talk to your child about the impact of curiosity: Explain to your child about how so many of the things that are staples in our lives are born out of someone’s curiosity about that subject. Introduce your child to the great inventors like Edison, Alexander Graham Bell, Benjamin Franklin whose curiosity has affected history and our lives so much.
Give open-ended materials to play: Along with toys that have specific ways to be played with give your child open-ended materials like sand, arts and craft supplies, empty boxes, blocks that can be used in any way they want. Don’t dictate your child what to do or what you expect it to look like at the end. Let your child’s curiosity take him or her where it needs to.
Curiosity is a wonderful thing that we are all born with. Children being less inhibited with the world are more curious about everything surrounding them. As a parent you should fully encourage this curiosity to flourish.