Kids’ natural (and insatiable) curiosity can be a challenge at times for parents, but it’s definitely something we want to nurture! If you want to develop their natural thirst for knowledge into a gift that will keep on giving the rest of their lives, take the following steps to encourage your kids’ curiosity.
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“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.” — Eleanor Roosevelt
Have you ever thought of curiosity as being “the most useful gift” a child could be given? If you’re a parent, I’m guessing it’s not your first inclination.
I know, our kids’ curiosity can be frustrating (and even kind of annoying) sometimes. The 1,003 questions they ask on a daily basis. The tendency to stop and examine every leaf, rock, and speck of dust that catches their eye. The urge to touch every single ever-loving thing.
It can even be downright dangerous when followed foolishly, such as wanting to see what happens when a fork is inserted into an outlet or experimenting with power tools without proper training.
Yes, curiosity can be a challenge for parents. But squelching it in our kids, whether out of fear or inconvenience, is a big mistake.
Curiosity turns kids into lifelong learners, which leads to growth and sets them up for future success. Therefore, it’s actually something we want to nurture!
If you want to develop their natural thirst for knowledge into a gift that will keep on giving the rest of their lives, take the following steps to encourage your kids’ curiosity.
Why You Should Encourage Kids’ Curiosity
Before we dive into the practical steps, let’s talk more about why we should do it. I briefly touched on it above, but here are some more specific reasons.
- Whets kids’ appetite for knowledge and leads them to become lifelong learners
- Helps them become more observant of the world around them
- Develops their analytical and problem-solving skills
- Encourages deep thinking
- Fosters developmental growth
- Exercises the mind, which is like a muscle that gets stronger with continual use
7 Ways to Encourage Kids’ Curiosity
Now that we’ve covered why you absolutely want to encourage your kids’ curiosity (even when it’s hard!), here are 7 ways to do it:
Kids learn best from observing us, so model a curious mind. Show an interest in the world around you, pursue your interests and skills, and ask questions out loud. Set an example of lifelong learning.
Answer their (1 millllllion) questions
I know, it can be a LOT. Kids ask hundreds of questions a day, and sometimes our weary brains need a rest. As much as possible, however, attempt to answer them or engage in further discussion. Shutting down their inquiries will not only hurt their feelings, it will also discourage future learning and critical thinking.
And for the questions you don’t know, look up the answers with your child! Not only will it spare you the mental energy of trying to come up with an answer, but it will teach your kids how to research answers to their own questions, which is an extremely valuable tool for them to have.
Ask them questions
Turn the tables on them and ask questions right back! Whenever you’re together, ask open-ended questions such as “Why do you think…?”, “What makes this so…?”, or “How do you suppose…?” Encourage your kids to think deeply beyond their surface-level observations.
Give them new experiences
Expose them to new things to engage their curiosity. Visit new places, try new activities, introduce new cultures, or read about new topics. All of these will stimulate your kids’ curiosity, encourage learning, and broaden their perception of the world around them.
Allow them the freedom to explore
Give your kids plenty of opportunities to explore — both literally in the natural world around them, and metaphorically in various interest areas. Provide healthy boundaries, when necessary, but try to avoid placing too many restrictions and structure on their exploration.
Follow their lead
Play a supporting role behind your kids’ lead. What are their current interests? What are their natural bents? Look for resources to feed their curiosity, such as books, magazines, documentaries, YouTube videos, or podcasts. (Here are some of our favorite podcasts for kids!)
Don’t discourage it
Yes, I’m telling you how to do something by telling you not to do the opposite. It’s so easy to shut them down without even realizing it, whether because their curiosity is inconvenient, exhausting, or maybe even worrisome. You may need to redirect their curiosity from time to time, but try not to discourage it.
SHARE WITH US: Which of these is the most difficult for you? Which one(s) do you feel you do well? Share with us in the comments below!
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Share your thoughts!