Nurturing Curiosity

There is something about preschoolers, isn’t there? The questions fly thick and fast, sometimes too fast for a bewildered mama to keep up. ‘What’s that flashing light for Mummy?’ ‘How did that building get so tall Mummy?’ ”What are these bugs doing here Mummy?’ and on and on they go.

Curiosity; seeing something for the first time, wanting to know what it is, how it works, why it is there, what can be done with it, is definitely a trait we want to nurture.

We want our children to want to know more, look for answers, think. And it seems that now is the time to nurture that, when they are young and curious and excited about the world around them. I have seen when it’s gone, that drive to know, and it is so hard to get back.

Nurturing Curiosity in Children - An Everyday Story for Childhood 101

It’s not a daunting task though, nurturing curiosity, in fact I would say that it is one of the easiest things you can do for your child. All we need to do is listen and talk to each other.

My son Jack asks so many questions. He wonders about so many things. I want him to know that his questions are important and searching for answers can be oh so much fun. So I always try to:

  • Listen to him
  • Pay attention to what has caught his attention
  • Take his questions seriously, even though they may seem a little silly at times
  • Rather than give him an answer straight away, ask him what he thinks – Why do you think the light is flashing? How do you think the building got so tall?
  • Work together to find the answer – How do you think we could find out?
  • Talk to each other

The Little Inquiry Bag - An Everyday Story for Childhood 101

Sometimes it helps to have a few things on hand to help extend their curiosity further; a little inquiry bag. That way, next time you’re on a walk or at the museum or the park and something catches your child’s attention, you can be ready with a tool to help investigate further. Just pop them in a bag and take them with you when you head out.

So when you hear:

‘Hey Mummy, look at this beetle!” you can reply with, ‘That is a really nice beetle. Would you like to use your magnifying glass to look at it some more?’


“Hey Mummy, look at this beautiful flower,’ you can say, ‘Let’s see what colour that flower is (using the paint swatches),’  or  ‘Would you like to take a picture of it? Then you can draw it when we get home.’

There’s also a notebook and clipboard for sketching and writing down any other questions they might have to investigate further at another time.

Of course you can change up what’s in the bag depending on where you are going. You could add (my son’s favourite at the moment) a small measuring tape, or a calculator, a bug catcher, or a pair of binoculars. Any one of these little tools will encourage your child to look more deeply.

Encouraging curiosity and thinking, helping children to know that their questions are valid and worth exploring and that they are capable of finding the answers, can only be a good things, wouldn’t you say?


  1. Admittedly, my preschooler tires me out with his insatiable curiosity. But my patience is rewarded with the chance to re-experience discoveries through his eyes. He makes learning fun again.

    1. It does get tiring, doesn’t it? And I think this is how we can sometimes give them the impression that their questions and wonderings are not valuable. I have to stop myself if I ever feel this way because like you said, it is such a wonderful way to re-discover things and help to protect their curiosity and sense of wonder.

  2. Hi. I was wondering if u have any thoughts about setting boundaries on an extremely verbal child? My 4 yo talks almost constantly and I want to pay him attention and engage with him but it’s impossible to do it all the time he’s talking. I’ve just started thinking maybe I could set some boundaries with his talking to give my brain a break, his sister a chance to be heard and him the understanding that it’s not appropriate to always be talking. What do u think???

    1. Hi Naomi
      When he knows hes really been heard he may moderate his intensity. Use active listening as much as you can. (Ive got a big talker too!)
      And make sure you model turn taking in conversation, where you clearly state whos turn it is as a discussion happens with adults and children alike having fair shares of the airspace where appropriate. Apologize if you interrupt his talking time. Get him to record some of his thoughts to show you value his commentary.
      Make some films of his monologues, you are going to love them if he becomes a less talkative teen.

    2. Jack seems to talk pretty much non-stop too. Sometimes his sentences never seem to end as each part is joined with ‘because’. I sometimes find myself standing there for what seems like ages just waiting for him to get his thoughts out.

      I agree with Sally. I want to make sure that he feels heard and that we listen to him actively and so we make sure to look at him when he’s talking and using body language (like getting down to his level and facing him) to show him we are listening. I also think it is important for him to learn social intelligence – turn taking in conversations, volume control, being quiet and learning when it is appropriate to talk.

      So like Sally said we practise turn-taking and we reiterate back to him what he’s said which seems to make him feel like we have heard him. We also prepare him before different situations as to when it is not appropriate to talk.

      Playing a ‘silent’ game has been helpful because at times we felt that Jack couldn’t help talking, he had so many thoughts in his head and if you interrupted him mid-sentence he became quite anxious and needed to finish what he was saying. So we play a ‘let’s see how long we can all be silent for’ type game or a ‘whispering’ game where we practise whispering.

      I think the most helpful thing has been turn-taking in a conversation as well as, like Sally said, giving him other outlets, like his camera or his notebook to draw his thoughts.

  3. Lovely insight from Kate, as always. Thank you for sharing!

  4. I am totally in this stage with my almost 4 year old now, so thanks so much for these ideas! I’ll be putting together an inquiry bag for him for sure, as he is now on two weeks vacation and we will be doing lots of exploring 🙂

    1. I think it is definitely the age. Sometimes Jack asks so many questions that my mind is just spinning. It is nice though to be able to say, ‘would you like your camera?’ or ‘Would you like to take that home and we can look it up in a book?’ Having him engaged and having a part in following through on his questions makes such a difference plus he is learning so much a long the way.

      I often change up what is in the bag but the camera, sketchpad, pencils and collection jars are always there. They go pretty much everywhere with us 🙂 – Hope you guys have lots of fun exploring 🙂

      1. I’ve actually been tossing around the idea of getting him a camera for his birthday. I always have mine with me and he likes trying to use it. I think this might be the thing that gets me to go for it!

  5. Ashleigh-Rose says:

    Hi. What a great idea! I was just wondering where you found those cute pencils?

    1. They are lovely, aren’t they? 🙂 I got them from Natural Play for Children. They were $8 I think for the set. We also have a set of lead bark pencils. You can find them on Facebook.

  6. Ann @ My Nearest and Dearest says:

    What a wonderful idea! I usually bring a bag outside when we head out to play. I fill it with snacks, hand wipes, water, etc so that we can stay out for a good long time. I could easily include some of the items you mentioned here.

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