Curious Child, Pleasure or Privilege.

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Curious Child

A curious mind makes for good company, whether as a child or an adult. A curious mind develops an interest in a wide variety of things. A study published in Perspectives in Psychological Science, a journal of the Association for Psychological Science, found that curiosity is a big part of academic performance. The study further confirms that personality traits like curiosity seem to be as important as intelligence in determining how well students do in school. “If you’re intellectually curious, you’ll go home, you’ll read the books,” says Sophie von Stumm, co-author of the study. “If you’re perceptually curious, you might go traveling to foreign countries and try different foods.”

Academics aren’t the only area where curiosity plays a role. Curiosity improves employability too. Over the years, employers have learned to look at soft skills that complement the technical side. They want to know that candidates can think on their feet and develop solutions to problems that fall outside their core expertise. Sophie von Stumm agrees: “It’s easy to hire someone who has done the job before and hence, knows how to work the role. But it’s far more interesting to identify those people who have the greatest potential for development, i.e., the curious ones.”

Signs Your Child Is Curious and Not Rude.

It can be easy to mistake the curiosity of your child for rudeness or bad manners. This is because curious children are direct, and they don’t shy away from asking questions adults won’t. Unfortunately, at that point, they’ve yet to learn the difference between an appropriate and an inappropriate question. This is something you’ll have to teach them eventually. But it’s also important to understand that they’re driven by their desire for answers when asking these questions. Below are a few signs.

  • People and things fascinate them. So you’d notice their tendency to want to know people, tell them about themself, and unravel things to peek inside to see how they work. A curious learner is driven purely by their need to know. But this exuberance can easily be mistaken as a rude forwardness. Because they tend to approach strangers, people might even brand you a careless parent.
  • They catch you completely off-guard with their questions. You know you have a curious child when they have a knack for catching you off-guard with their questions. Off-guard in this context means asking you a question you have no idea how to answer. These questions are usually out of the box and, therefore, unexpected. An inquiring mind is quick and imaginative. In situations like these, simply defer the question to another time. This gives you some space to think about it.
  • Their questions are genuine. Even though they just ask anything that pops into their mind, you can tell that it comes from a genuine place. By genuine, their questions come from a burning curiosity. Sarcasm is generally out of the equation because children only master sarcasm later in their development.
  • They make a mess of things. It’s not uncommon for you to find a curious child trying to disassemble their toys. The toys do stuff on the outside that fascinates them. So they want to see what goes on inside that produces such an effect. Unfortunately, they sometimes end up making a mess of things or even damaging their toys in the process.

Benefits of Cultivating Curiosity in Children

The benefits of curiosity in children extend into adulthood. Research has looked into the benefits in academic, personal, and social contexts. A study led by Thomas G. Reio Jr., a Professor of Adult Education and Human Resource Development, looked into the possible roles of curiosity in adult learning, particularly in the workplace. The study found that curiosity-driven behaviors such as information seeking play a significant role in learning and performance in the workplace. Curiosity helps an individual make sense of dense or technical information. Typically, when a curious person encounters something they don’t know, they explore their environment for answers instead of quitting.

Because curious people are more likely to explore, it allows them to demonstrate their competence, triggering positive human states such as joy and vitality. Furthermore, engaging with meaningful activities through exploration helps individuals discover their interests, help them face adversity, and give them a sense of purpose and direction. A sense of purpose brings fulfillment, which is integral to overall happiness.

In the context of young children and their education, curiosity greatly supports early learning. In their 2018 research, Prachi E Shah and her colleagues found that curiosity is an under-recognized contributor to academic achievement. They found evidence that curiosity is associated with greater reading and math at kindergarten. In addition, the aspect of curiosity that significantly supports economic achievement is the child’s eagerness to learn new things. Together, these benefits combine to make the quality of your child’s life generally better.

How to Promote Curiosity in Your Child

Everyone is born with some level of curiosity. “Curiosity is automatic. It’s in our DNA. We’re born curious about so many things,” says psychologist, author, and researcher Scott Barry Kaufman. “But we’re not equally curious about everything.” This suggests that there’s room to cultivate more curiosity. Furthermore, your child’s level of curiosity isn’t an immutable characteristic and can therefore be influenced. Below are practical ways to cultivate curiosity in your child.

  • Ask what they think. Always answering your child’s questions can feel like the natural thing to do. But it may be more beneficial to them if you sometimes ask what they think about their question instead. Answering all their questions may affect their ability to think for themself. Whenever they encounter something unfamiliar, they start running to you to help them figure it out. Stimulating their curiosity would be to say, “That’s a good question. What do you think?” when they come to you with a question. Then, when they answer, ask another question relevant to their answer.
  • Let them find and pursue their interests. Many parents have one activity or the other they want their child to follow. There’s nothing wrong with encouraging them to go for something you think might be good for them. But it would be best if you allowed them space to pursue other things that catch their fancy. When they do find an interest, support it as much as you can. It makes learning thrilling for them.
  • Allow them time to play independently. Every child is a scientist by nature. So it’s not uncommon to find your child making a mess trying to experiment with something. “Children watch to see what happens to objects when they throw them, put them under the water, get them dirty, and so on,” says Dr. Linda Acredolo, a professor of psychology at the University of California. “It’s not at all unusual for a young child to repeatedly throw things out of the crib, splash in mud puddles, or stick a toy in the DVD slot.” Naturally, you might be tempted to discourage the child because they’re getting dirty or making too much of a mess. But discouraging them might affect their curiosity or sense of adventure. So if possible, allow them to carry on. And if they’re getting frustrated at something, don’t try and fix it for them. The point of this is for them to do their thing independently Here we discuss Helping Your Child to Study Independently.
  • Remove boring from your everyday vocabulary. Boredom is a human state that can be altered with a bit of creativity. For this reason, avoid using boring to describe activities. It gives children the idea that boredom is the limit of every activity. That once they’re bored, they can simply ditch the task instead of getting creative. Encourage them to find new ways to spice things up and make them enjoyable again. Let them know that there is always something to discover beyond boredom.
  • Wonder out loud. Your child watches you and learns from you every step of the way. You don’t need to arrange a sit-down or anything like that. Instead, as you go through your day together, make it a point to wonder aloud or ask questions that might pique their curiosity. For example, you might say, “I wonder why the windows seem moist this morning when it didn’t rain last night.” If, by chance, you wonder out loud about something you both couldn’t figure out at that moment, you could research and find out together.
  • Take them to new places. Travelling is education in itself. Visiting new places opens your child’s world up, broadening their horizon. Through traveling, they get to meet new people, experience different cultures and learn about places. Parents who don’t have the means to travel to foreign countries can visit ethnic restaurants in their area. Let them have a taste of Thai, Vietnamese, Spanish, and Japanese dishes. Museums, BBC Bitesize, and YouTube videos allow us to travel anywhere in time or the world!
  • Develop an atmosphere of reading. Reading is a gateway to the world beyond your child. It is a way to stimulate and satiate curiosity. Read open-ended stories to your child as frequently as you can. And not just a single story or book. Try and diversify your library so that there’s a lot to choose from. Fill the house with reading materials. Leave non-fiction books on the shelves and in the car as they will be picked up in moments of boredom. In the evenings, I read in the same room as my children before they go to bed, and they see books and magazines by my bed. This tells my children how essential reading is.
  • Provide them with tools. As they develop, provide them with age-appropriate tools to explore. This empowers them and keeps them curious and creative. Allow them the freedom to use those tools, make mistakes and correct them. Tools may include a dictionary, an easel, paint, colored pencils, magnifying glasses, binoculars, etc. 
  • Have the TV during lunch. This is not as controversial as it might sound. With a website like BBC bitesize, there are great 5 minute clips for all ages. If it is just the children and me, they will sometimes get to choose one each on any topic that they want. It then acts as a stimulus for conversation.

Final Thoughts on the Importance of a Curious Child.

The point of provoking curiosity in your child isn’t just for educational purposes. Curiosity contributes to their social skills and makes them interesting, which helps build and sustain relationships. The four-hour train test can help you know how engaging your child is. If you wouldn’t want to be on a train with them for four hours when they are sixteen, why would anyone? Fortunately, curiosity can be provoked in adolescents and even adults. It’s never too late. Here we have an guidelines for A Meaningful Relationship With Your Child