6 Tips for Raising a Curious Child
Studies show that early foreign language exposure builds a more powerful brain, and offers long-lasting intellectual and educational advantages.
At Carousel, we also know that foreign language exposure in early childhood isn’t just academic.
Our holistic program is based on the simple but life-changing idea that when you give your child a second language from the very start, you put the world at their fingertips.
We strive to enrich the minds, hearts, and spirits of our young students with the beauty of cultural diversity and a sense of global citizenship.
Our enchanting classrooms are full of delights for a young child’s senses, designed to nurture an inquisitive mind: music, movement, books, poetry, songs, beautiful colors, pleasing textures. Children love our soft, furry signature Carousel bears, twinkling crystal Maria Theresa chandeliers, and the silk butterflies that “land” in unexpected places around our exquisite home.
The learning environment is always warm and loving, so young people feel free to ask questions, explore the space, touch and hold things, use their voices, speak up, sing out, try new words, be creative, and make new friends.
We believe joyful learning is the greatest measure of success.
We embrace and encourage your child’s innate curiosity. Our most fundamental mission is to foster their hunger for knowledge, inspire them to explore the world around them, to give them the confidence to move comfortably about in other places and cultures, and the assurance that they never have to feel like a stranger.
Research shows that curiosity is tied to higher academic achievement and greater creativity. Young children are naturally curious and eager to learn, so it’s important to continually affirm their questions and exploration—even when you find your preschooler’s constant Why? Why? But WHY? a little exhausting.
There are lots of simple ways to nurture your child’s curiosity!
- Model a spirit of inquiry and adventurousness.
Let your child see that you love to try new things… foods, travel, fashions, games, sports, types of exercise, artwork, and projects around the house. Show them you’re not afraid of failure—that it’s great to try even if you’re not good at something right away.
Engage with your child’s questions – and inspire more.
Really listen. Answer as best as you can. Research shows that children’s questions are active information gathering. Children who receive a vague or cursory answer tend to repeat the question, but when given an explanatory answer they nod in agreement and often ask follow-up questions to probe deeper.
It’s easy with very young toddlers, who usually just want to know “What’s that?”
- That’s a brush. It makes your hair nice and soft.
- It’s an orange. It tastes yummy! So sweet and juicy.
But when they get into “Why?” and “How?”…
- Why is the sky blue?
- Why don’t fish have feet?
- How does a spider spin a web?
- Why don’t we fall off the earth?
- Why does Grandpa have no hair?
…your thoughtful answer can open the door for exciting investigation!
Don’t be afraid to say, “Good question! I don’t know—but let’s find out.”
When you’re stumped, it’s tempting to jump right to the Internet. But first ask your child,
- What do you think?
- Hmmm, where can we find the answer?
Maybe you have a book at home that will tell you. Or better yet, do it the old fashioned way sometimes! Take a field trip to the library or bookstore, or call an expert friend.
- Uncle Joe knows a lot about cars, let’s ask him!
Encourage exploration while keeping them safe.
Curiosity and growing independence cause toddlers to push boundaries and test the limits of No. You want your child to explore, but you don’t want him to get hurt or do anything destructive. So use positive reinforcement and redirection to encourage inquiry while keeping him on the right track.
- Uh oh! It’s not safe to climb up the bookshelf. But let’s see how high we can go on the play set!
- Wow! You’re making beautiful bubbles! We can’t dump all the shampoo in the tub, but let’s make a bowlful of soap bubbles to play with.
Ask open-ended questions.
Open-ended questions cannot be answered with a simple yes or no, or even a single word. They have no right or wrong answer but ask your child to think, reason, imagine, consider multiple possibilities, and express feelings and opinions. They nurture speech and language development, creativity, independence, and memory.
- Tell me about what you drew!
- What did you see when you went to the…?
- How did you feel when she…?
- How can we figure this out together?
- What do you think will happen next?
Be patient while your child processes the question and formulates an answer. Let her respond without interrupting. Stay engaged and show that you’re really interested in what she has to say.
You can also spark curiosity—and introduce new vocabulary—with conversation starters such as:
- I wonder what will happen if…
- I’ve noticed that…
- At the park I observed…
- Guess what I discovered today?
Resist the urge to show them how to do everything.
When you offer your child a new object or activity, don’t show them exactly how it works or how to play. Unstructured play is vital for brain development. When children don’t know how to do something, their experimentation and discovery develop reasoning, creativity, problem-solving ability, confidence, self-regulation, motor skills, and more.
An MIT study revealed that when presented with a novel toy, “children [who were] expressly taught one of its functions played with the toy for less time and discovered fewer things to do with it” than children who did not receive direct instruction.
Try magnetic tiles, building blocks, and other toys that can be played with in many different ways. Offer an array of (safe) art materials and let them experiment and create like crazy!
Our planet offers an endless source of things to investigate. Simple toys like a butterfly net, bucket and shovel, magnifying glass, or binoculars can pique a child’s curiosity about science and the natural world.