It takes a lot of confidence as an educator or parent to encourage children to question – many of us are worried that we may not know the answer, not realising that it is actually okay not to have the answer. This just promotes more exploration and questioning, by both children and adults.
Here are 5 simple ways to foster curiosity in children:
1. Pay attention to their questions!
Young children are naturally curious. They have an itch to explore their world and figure out how things work. And parents have compelling reasons to foster this inherent inquisitiveness. “When children are encouraged to be curious, ask questions and are given the opportunity to discover the answer themselves, they are much more likely to embrace curiosity as an adult, continuing their learning for as long as they remain curious,” Ms Bennett added.
2. be patient
For parents, children’s unending questions can challenge our knowledge—and our patience. But if we want to nurture their curiosity, perhaps the best response we can give is simply this: “Good question. Let’s find out.”
3. Don't give the answers away!
Resist giving the answer to your child, instead, encourage them to investigate and find the solution together.
4. Buy toys which foster creativity, such as...
- Construction sites - Lego/Duplo, building blocks, farm and zoo animals, road and traffic signs, sensory blocks or coloured window blocks.
- Science explorations - magnets, bug catchers or magnifying glasses.
- Artistic adventures - musical instruments, chalk to draw on cement paths, a writing pad, a variety of textas, pencils, glue, paints, clear contact, glitter, textured paper and scissors. Collect your recycled containers, toilet rolls, ribbons, wrapping paper, milk bottle lids or yoghurt containers.
- Fostering the travel bug - World map puzzles or a children's world globe.
- Books - a fantastic way to building upon a child's imagination and to start creative conversations.
5. Role model continual learning and exploration, show children learning is fun.
Shared discovery gives the greatest pleasure. In the classroom, the curious child will want to share his/her discovery with you. The attention, smile and shared joy you show will provide a powerful reward to the child. This is an important part of the cycle of learning. You will encourage positive exploration with your attentiveness.
“‘How does this work? What happens if I…? Is it possible to…?’ If we as educators and parents, encourage young children to start ‘thinking in questions’ like these then we are fostering an environment of curiosity; an exciting place where the impossible becomes possible and where innovation becomes reality,” Maria Bennett, Children’s Services Manager at Campus Life, Macquarie University has said.