Curiosity is what drives us to learn new things, which is why it’s essential that it’s encouraged from an early age. In fact, research conducted by the Association for Psychological Science, found that a good sense of curiosity can have a positive impact on academic performance, as children are much more likely to become self-directed learners who can easily think for themselves. Here’s 6 simple ways you can help your children to develop, cultivate and encourage their sense of curiosity.
1. Ask Your Children Questions
Asking your child a variety of questions is a great way to encourage curiosity. Even though simple questions can be answered with one word, complex questions require kids to think critically, which can help establish their own opinions and ideas as well as develop reasoning skills. In fact, asking your child ‘what if’ and ‘why’ are a great way to encourage a curious mindset as it helps them imagine different outcomes, connect events and understand a situation. An easy way to do this is to ask about the stories they watch on TV or see in movies, or read about in books and magazines.
2. Be a Good Role Model
Showing your own curiosity will be sure to encourage your children to be more inquisitive. Whenever a question pops into your head, make sure you ask it aloud and find out the answers with your children. Not only can this be a fun activity, but helps your kids realise the importance of asking questions and how fun it is to always be learning new things.
3. Give Your Child Tools
When helping to develop your child’s curiosity, it’s important they have the ability to pursue the things they’re interested in on their own. Providing the tools your kids need will mean they can openly explore, ask questions, discover interests and learn new things. Easy ways to do this can be teaching them how to use internet searches (making sure parental controls are in place), as well as building a good collection of non-fiction books. You could even build a portable ‘curiosity toolkit’ for when they’re on the go. Fill a backpack with paper, pencils, a dictionary, a magnifying glass and anything else you can think of - this way your kids will be ready for any adventure that comes their way.
4. Provide a Stimulating Environment
Living in a stimulating environment is a simple way to help develop your kids’ curiosity. Having colourful pictures and posters in their bedroom, alongside interesting or interactive objects can be very powerful as they encourage interaction, independent thinking and visual stimulation.
5. Provide Open-Ended Activities
Letting your kids play or enjoy open-ended activities is a super easy way to encourage new interests and spark curiosity. Too much structure and planning can restrict your child’s imagination, whereas when they’re enjoying something more relaxed their minds can wander and explore. For example, a trip to the local library is a fantastic open-ended activity and a great place to start developing your child’s curiosity. As well as encouraging them to choose fiction books that interest them, get them to look at the non-fiction section for a change - they may come across new topics that interest them. It’s also a great idea to point out titles and topics that interest you while you’re both browsing, as doing so will encourage your child to do the same. Other fun open-ended activities include:
- A trip to a museum or zoo
- A walk in the forest
- A picnic
- Playing the park
- Arts and crafts
6. Mix Things Up
Curiosity is all about exploring the unknown. Even though your child’s curiosity will naturally lead them towards topics and activities that interest them, it’s equally important for them to get out of their comfort zone by doing things that challenge them. This can be as simple as doing something different to an activity they already enjoy. For example, if your child loves drawing and sketching, encourage them to experiment with painting, or if they play football every weekend, see if they could try out basketball for a few weekends instead. This can help spark new curiosities and allows kids to try their hand at a new skill. Family outings can also be a great opportunity to introduce new experiences. Attending a local theatre, visiting a new museum, or exploring a new city are just a few ideas to give your child an experience that’s out of the ordinary. Pay attention to what excites them in the process, and encourage them to continue exploring those activities, skills, or interests.