Now that we’ve established how crucial curiosity development is for children (see Parts 1, 2 & 3), the question remains, how do we encourage kids to grow in this vital skill? In this final article in our series, we’ll take a look at some ways you can nurture curiosity in the children who are within your sphere of influence.
As we mentioned in the first article, curiosity comes naturally for babies. They’re born curious. The innate nature of curiosity gives those of us who want to foster this trait an advantage. We aren’t trying to get kids to develop something they don’t already have. Instead, we’re trying to fan the spark of curiosity that’s found inside of them into a flame.
So what are some steps you can take to develop a child’s inborn curiosity?
1. Give them the freedom to make choices
As simple as this step sounds, there are many instances where we fail to give children the freedom they need to make decisions. Obviously, young children may need a bit more direction and limitation on their choices than older children. But even very young children can start making choices. For example, rather than always laying out an outfit for a child to wear, give them a choice of several different shirts or pairs of pants to choose from. You can do the same when it comes to snack time. Let them pick between several healthy snack options. The older they get, the less involved you’ll need to be in helping them make these day-to-day decisions.
2. Present them with situations that cause them to have to think on their feet
Rather than always following a set pattern of how a task is going to be accomplished, present the child with a problem that needs to be solved. Then let them figure it out with as little input from you as possible. Escape rooms are a great example of an activity that involves problem-solving. Kids are put into a room filled with various clues that they need to find in order to figure out a way to solve a problem.
3. Boost their confidence through healthy praise.
Sometimes kids lack curiosity because they aren’t self-confident. They would rather rely on the ideas of others instead of come up with their own ideas and risk failing or making a mistake. Let them know that it’s okay to make mistakes. Praise them when they make progress. Ask them questions to encourage them to engage in problem-solving and critical thinking. Then let them know how proud you are when they come up with their own ideas.
4. Allow for flexibility when it comes to schedules and routines
Routine is helpful for getting things done in a predictable, efficient manner. Therefore, in an effort to keep a child’s life running smoothly, adults can sometimes fall into the temptation of setting up too many rigid, unchanging routines. As a result, children won’t be prepared when they get out into the adult world where life can often prove to be unpredictable. In order to help your child learn curiosity and adaptability, change things up from time to time. Introduce a novel activity. Explore a new place. Do things in a different order than the way you normally would. Let them know that change is a natural, healthy part of life and there’s more than one right way to do many things in life.
5. Ask questions and engage in play that sparks curiosity
You can help a child learn to be more curious by asking intentional questions that help them become more aware of the world around them. Ask them to describe how things look, sound, feel, taste, and smell. Encourage them to engage in creative play, such as role-playing and pretending. Consider these activities a workout for their creative side.
The more curious children become, the more likely they are to become successful, happy and well-rounded adults. Coming alongside and encouraging their curiosity can give a child wings to soar to new heights.