Learning Anywhere, Every Day
Part 3 of 12 - Encourage Curiosity
19 April 2017
I’m sure you’ll agree that preschoolers ask lots of questions. One time I counted, and found that my daughter asked me 98 questions in one day! Obviously, young children are just naturally curious, which is literally wonderful. This curiosity, a built in desire to learn things, helps educate them about their worlds.
It’s so important to encourage your child’s inquisitiveness, because as your child grows, the world seems to work against this desire to explore new things. Society wants children to conform. Especially as your child nears school age as outside pressures from adults grow-- to perform like or better than other children in areas such as knowing letters, numbers-- your child’s environment can start to close in. They can find it less and less rewarding to express interest in things, to ask why, to question, and to be creative in investigating their world.
At the same time, curiosity is the key to lifelong learning. As The Economist recently reported, it has become essential to have the ability to learn new skills for today’s job market as well as future occupations. According to a Pew survey, 54% of all working Americans think it will be essential to develop new skills throughout their working lives; among adults under 30 the number that goes up to 61%.
To help maintain your child’s natural skills to look at things critically and creatively, it’s so incredibly important to know ways to encourage and have fun with your pre-k child’s curiosity. Here a few suggestions and tips on how to do this:
- Find answers together. When your preschooler asks you countless questions every day, work together to explore and find the answers to their questions. Search online, talk with knowledgeable friends, or take a trip to the library or a museum for more information.
- Parents, ask your own questions. It’s important for your child to see that grown-ups need to ask questions and are curious, too. For example, after a rainstorm, ask, “Where do you think all that water went?” Or “How did the falling rain feel to you?”
- Ask questions after reading an interesting book. Ask your child if they have questions about the book you’ve read. Adults can ask questions about the book, too. You’ll also find this is a perfect time to share ideas with your young child. For instance, “What did you think about Goldilocks breaking the chair?”
- Play “what-happens-if’s” with your child. During bath time, let’s see what happens if I put the rubber ducky on the soap. Will it float? Try things and see if what they expect happens. It’s fun to hypothesize!
- Notice changes. Make bread dough and watch it turn into a loaf of bread. Talk about the changes you see over the time it’s in the oven. The discovery of why and how things change, or change perception, is happening all the time. In fact, we have a whole list of Skilly-do Change Perception activities that support and explore this important skill.
- Go to unusual places or new places that you don’t normally go. Give your young one lots of opportunities to be curious by taking them to different places, such as a new kind of museum or different playground. They will naturally notice new things and may take these opportunities to ask you questions about these experiences. Don’t forget, you can always ask questions, too.
You’ll find that so many of our Skilly-do activities are designed to cultivate your child’s creativity. Choose one or two from our Kitchen Science or Experience Nature collections and see how you can continue to encourage and sustain your child’s natural desire to explore our world’s why’s.
Let us know how it went. How many questions did your child ask today? What answers did you discover together?
Up next in our 12 part series, Learning Anywhere, Every Day: Part 4, Helping At Home! And if you missed it, here’s Part 2 of our blog series, Walkabouts.