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Parenting blog

A blog for parents with effective techniques based on developmental psychology. 

Fostering curiosity to promote learning

Sara Zaidi

Children have a natural desire to learn, to figure out how things work, and gain competence over the world around them. They are open, aware and experimental. Parents can harness this inherent curiosity to nurture the love for learning. 

Curiosity increases with knowledge i.e. people are more eager to learn about things they already know. The more information we inundate our children with, the more likely they are to ask questions. Simply taking a stroll down the street can provide opportunities to discuss topics of interest to them. For example, a gardener planting flowers could lead to a conversation about the parts of a plant, how a tree grows, what tools the gardener might need, or what else you might find in the dirt.  

When one realizes that there is a gap in their knowledge, it produces a feeling of deprivation and this emotion (being more than just a mental state) is a motivating force to eliminate that feeling of deprivation. For instance, a boy interested in playing with diggers might want to learn more about how the real one works and be curious to understand the way other machines function. 

Additionally, interesting questions also stimulate curiosity - being told the answer quells curiosity before it can even get going. Wondering out loud to a child, how a seed grows in to a flower would encourage him to explore possibilities on his own. Providing an explanation before he has had a chance to examine the question would quench his desire to figure it out on his own and limit his imagination. 

Children are also more likely to remember things that they are curious about; in fact they are able to remember boring, mundane information if this information is interspersed within something that they are keen to learn about. Weaving a boring science lesson in to a story about a superhero might keep a child’s attention for a little bit longer and he is probably also more likely to remember it later because he was curious to hear about the superhero. 

Such simple practices can be incorporated in to every day interactions. Once the curiosity for learning develops, these children will become self-directed learners and retain their enthusiasm for seeking knowledge.