This post is by regular contributor Kate Gribble of An Everyday Story.
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.
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
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?