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Curiosity & Inquiry

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Dear Debi,
My 4-year-old is always asking “why.” She is so inquisitive about everything around her. She keeps me on my toes! How do I encourage her curiosity?
Tom Storer
Debi's Tips
Debi Gutierrez
Debi Gutierrez
Host
  • Kids are naturally curious
  • Provide a variety of materials
  • Listen & ask open-ended questions
  • Model curiosity
Expert Advice
Mike Salas
Mike Salas
Preschool teacher
Children are curious because for them everyone and everything is new and they want to know more about the vast world that surrounds them.

It is important that we foster children’s curiosity because they’ll become more motivated to learn about the world. As parents, we have the opportunity and obligation to make them more curious and, above all, prepare them for school. As adults, we need to show children that we like for them to ask us questions. This makes them feel important, that we respect their curiosity and inquiry.

Parents should ask children open-ended questions –questions that have more than one correct answer. Ask children about things that require more explanation than a simple one-word answer. For instance, ask them about rain or plant growth or insect behavior. Ask them what they think and what their point of view is, this way they can develop more vocabulary too, and they can better express themselves. Many parents nod their head when they are asked a question, but they should take the time to explain and teach.

Toys are also very important. Children like to use their imagination at play, and the use of toys stimulates that. Provide toys that are made of different materials so that children’s five senses will be stimulated. There are many toys that offer the opportunity for creativity and their function is expansive. Some toys offer many functions, and can be applied to many games. Avoid toys that have only one or two functions.
Child Care Provider Comments
Angela Johnson
Angela Johnson
Mother of two
When my daughter Ariel was about 3 years old, we started talking about clouds and one day I said “look at those clouds.” They were kind of orange because it was sunset. She asked how they got like that and out of that interaction what happened is that now she likes to look at clouds. We went through this stage where she started spotting little formations in the clouds; she would see rabbits and birds, all sorts of things and that encouraged her curiosity and imagination. Just point out the ordinary, take that as our moment in our busy lives to step back and think about the excitement and wonder in discovering the world.
Cathy Agnew
Cathy Agnew
Cares for her grandchildren, mother of two
You can do things at home to encourage a child’s curiosity. I think there are lots of mediums they can play with like rice and beans; fill cups with it and pour it out, give them different textures to feel. I also have a drawer with a variety of different items and materials for them, such as jars, lids, scoops, spoons and the kids like to play with that and play pretend cooking. They like to put things together, screw the lids on, stack the containers, put things inside the other, etc, and they know that’s their drawer. It lets them figure out how things work and discover many different ways to play.
Karolina Ramirez
Karolina Ramirez
Child care provider for 6 years
In my childcare I keep a treasure box where I put string, felt, rocks, anything interesting with different textures, things that they can play with. They can dig in the box and it’s a one-on-one activity where you’re holding the box, they pick something out and you talk about. Let them explore with it, does it bounce, is it soft, hard? What is it used for? They’re guaranteed to find many uses for one thing. There’s no right or wrong answer.

Window Garden Featured Activity:
Window Garden
Curiosity & Inquiry Featured Video:
Curiosity & Inquiry
Topic: Child Development
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Resources
The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC)
 
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