Why Curiosity is the Most Valuable Trait for Your Child’s Life Long Learning

Want strategies on how to instil a love of life long learning in your child – here’s how!

Back in 1971 when the current Irish Primary School curriculum was devised the Department of Education had the foresight to include curiosity as one of the key pedagogical principles and asserted that a “child’s sense of wonder and natural curiosity is a primary motivating factor in learning”.

Fast forward to 2017 and intellectual curiosity is even more relevant now than in 1971.

Although we continue to default to grades as some of the only measures of success for our future generations we must become more critical yet open-minded in our approach.

We know most children can achieve good test results without really being curious – they just need to pay attention, understand the system, do their homework and take the test. Easy right!

But is this really enough? How does this serve them when they go to University or they must partake in the real world with challenges at every corner. Will your child be really ready to face the world with a curious and engaged mind?

According to research, intellectual curiosity is the underlying catalyst that drives questioning. It helps children seek and find new knowledge and skills, its offers new and different ways of looking at the world and ultimately creates a life long love of learning.

Children with natural curiosity spend hours tinkering, reading and acquiring knowledge, thinking and trying to figure things out for themselves. As they become more naturally curious about a topic they will retain what they have learned for longer periods of time.

This is why project based learning is so vital for the twenty first century classroom. 

 

By selecting a topic the child is personally interested in and applying the educational principles necessary they will learn both the topic and the process much better. 

In my expertise and from years of experience it has become very apparent that when harnessed and utilised correctly in a learning situation curiosity can positively impact behaviour. 

When a child is fully engaged in a topic or a process they are engrossed, their brain, their eyes, their hands. They are fully focused, making connections, developing relationships and manipulating information.They are competent and in control at the moment and distractions and misbehaviour just disappear.

Moreover, at the end of the task any anxiety or uncertainty they may have had about their own ability starts to fade, They are engaged, thinking, happy and full of positivity.

So, how do we get our children to be full of natural curiosity and wonder. Want to know the good news – they already are. They come hardwired full of questions and motivations to keep learning. All we have to do is nurture it.

Strategies for Stimulating Curiosity and A Love of Life Long Learning

  1. Encourage children to ask questions. 
  2. Encourage them to get involved in collaborative based projects and activities outside of classroom. Curiosity is contagious, children feed from each others enthusiasm and positive energy.
  3. Value, praise and reward curiosity. Do not reward the outcome all the time but the process. So next time you see time engrossed in book, or exploring a great website, solving a puzzle of engaged a club event note and reward.
  4. Notice if your child is overwhelmed or puzzled. Don’t be tempted just to give them the answer. Prompt them with some thought provoking questions that will help them figure it out on their own.
  5. Positive Role Models. These are vital to encourage children intellectual curiosity. They must see this act in practice on a daily, local mentor level in the form of parents, older siblings, teachers, etc as well as with more aspirational role models. All are valuable in their own right.
  6. Encourage Critical Thinking. Always ask why? Look around, questions things, channel your inner toddler – they are little beings full of natural curiosity.
  7. Encourage Tinkering. Finally, but most importantly – encourage tinkering! This is such a old word and almost a dying concept nowadays but one that is hugely valued here at Foodoppi. Tinkering means to partake in constructive, hand on play. Explore, experiment, discover, make, build, create and well just see what happens………. this stimulates curiosity and provokes thinking outside the box for solutions.