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Monday, May 2, 2016

5 Tips on Cultivating Your Child's Natural Curiosity

Photo by Alain Wibert (Flickr)

When my daughter found out that our neighbors were adopting a dog, she asked me dozens of questions. I answered her dozens of questions and encouraged her to read books about pet care because I wanted to encourage her curiosity. I enjoyed watching her learn, and that incident prompted me to think about five ways we can encourage the natural curiosity in our children.

Take Your Children Outside

From the time they were born, I took my girls outside every day. I wanted them to appreciate the great outdoors and learn as much as possible about nature. Whether your kids are newborns or teens, start now to expose them to nature. Take walks around your neighborhood, hike through the forest, and sit outside at night as you encourage your kids to be curious while outdoors.

Follow Your Children's Leads

Like when my daughter wanted to learn more about pet care, maybe your kids have expressed interest in something unique. Kids learn more when they participate in activities that interest them, and you can follow your child's lead and jump into whatever subject currently interests them. Grab a drum and play along as your child bangs a tambourine, borrow art books and draw together, or hunt for bugs that might live in your garden as you encourage your kids to follow wherever their curiosity leads.

Ask Your Children Open-Ended Questions

Curiosity is similar to a tennis game: Your kids ask a question and find an answer, which leads to more questions and answers. That's one reason to ask open-ended questions that can't be answered with a single "yes" or "no." Try questions like, "How do you feel about...," "Tell me what happened at school today," or "What was such-and-such experience like for you?" These questions encourage your children to develop their own thoughts and ideas as they continue to learn and grow.

Let Your Kids Play Freely

Play is one of the best ways kids learn to explore, discover new things, and cultivate their interests. Instead of directing the activity all of the time, encourage free play. Their curiosity guides them as they grow emotionally, develop cognitive skills, and cultivate independent discovery.

One way I encourage free play is by stocking our play room with open-ended toys like blocks, boxes, and art materials that invite my kids to use their imaginations, and I rotate the toys every few weeks so my girls don't get bored. I've also learned that it's OK if kids want to use a soccer ball as a baby instead of kicking it or pretend that the jungle gym is a fortress they can hide inside.

Model Curiosity

My kitchen faucet broke the other day. Instead of hiring someone to fix it, I invited my girls to join me in learning how to repair it ourselves. We used that opportunity to learn a new skill, and we now want to tackle fixing our broken front screen door. By modeling curiosity, I taught my girls that it's OK to keep learning, growing, and asking questions no matter how old they are.

These five tips for cultivating your child's natural curiosity are only the beginning. There are dozens of other ways to encourage our kids to think for themselves as they explore, learn, and grow, so get curious!

Find more about the author: Kim Hart

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