"Where's the train going Mom?"
"What sound do giraffes make?"
"When will I be a grown-up?"
From the meaning of words, to basic questions about daily life, to random and completely off-the-wall head-scratchers (really, what sound DOES a giraffe make?!), kids LOVE to ask questions. While at times the never-ending barrage of questions may verge on annoying, know that your children's curiosity is a blessing — and represents an eager thirst for knowledge.
Children want to know. They long to understand. Your kids hold within their minds one of our most precious natural resources — wonder.
As parents, we need to saturate our child's world with wonder. Encourage them to question the world around them. Inspire their creativity with new experiences, children's literature, and engaging conversation.
Curious children grow up to be innovators, entrepreneurs, and visionaries. Without curiosity there would be no new ideas.
Here are five simple ways to develop, cultivate, and encourage your children's sense of curiosity. (Because really, those ceaseless questions are a good thing!)
1. Ask Your Children a Variety of Questions
Turn the tables, and ask your children a variety of questions. Aim for a balance of simple and complex questions. A simple question can be answered with one word. A complex question requires children to employ critical thinking and helps establish their opinions and ideas. Asking children questions develops reasoning, helps them find their voices, and increases their vocabulary. Additionally, asking questions can validate children's ideas and opinions. When children are asked to give an answer, they know that you value their thoughts.
2. Ask Your Children to Justify Their Answers
When your children answer a question, encourage them to extend their answer with a justification. When your children state a preference, a feeling, a want, etc. — ask them WHY, and encourage them to answer. Discourage answers like "just because," and try to help your children develop the practice of backing up their ideas with reasoning, facts, opinions, etc.
Ask a few prompting questions, such as, "Why do you feel that way?" "What makes you think that?" "Why do you like that?" etc. When your children justify their answers, they are practicing skills they will need in nearly every core academic subject.
Set an example, and wonder aloud for your children. Say things like, "I wonder why the squirrels are up in that tree", "I wonder what we will see at the museum?", or "I wonder what will happen next in the story." Wondering helps children realize that learning is ACTIVE. When we engage the mind with activities like wondering, we are constantly learning, thinking, creating new ideas, etc. Wondering prevents the brain from growing idle.
4. Provide Answers
Strive to answer 75% of your eager learners' questions. Avoid answers like, "just because" or "that's just how it is." Give new information. Provide new vocabulary. You never know what new interest you may be opening up to your children, just by taking a few minutes to answer their questions!
5. Find the Answer
If you don't know the answer to a question, admit it! It is a great thing for kids to see YOU learning and growing as an adult! We want our kids to know that learning is a life-long process. If your children ask a question that you don't know the answer to, get ready to discover something new together.
Model for your children how to find an answer when you are unsure or don't know something. Use a wide variety of tools. Utilize the Internet. Visit the library. Ask an expert in the field. Do some research.
How do you develop your child's curiosity? Share your suggestions on the Scholastic Parents Facebook page.