Engage Curiosity and Create Life-long Learners
Updated: Oct 23, 2020
Wonder and curiosity are the lifeblood of our work. Whether in the forest, on the hillside or at the beach the first invitation we give a child, is to be curious. Our experience of exploring and creating freely with young people has helped us to understand that curiosity is intrinsically linked to creativity. Nurturing an enquiring, open mind, is possibly the most powerful gift you can give your child, so here are our top tips for stimulating curiosity, and encouraging life long learning.
Curiosity leads us down new paths
Curiosity has driven almost all of human innovation. The impulse to go beyond the obvious and look deeper is a uniquely human strength, but curiosity can be elusive and we must consciously strive to develop it in our young people.
The benefits of a curious mind
So what are the life-long benefits of curiosity? Being curious is a sure fire way to expand a child's vocabulary , as they find language to describe what they are discovering. Critical thinking skills improve, as young people solve problems for themselves, and social bonds are enhanced through collaborative questioning and the shared creative process. Curiosity can also be a powerful element in your child’s toolkit when they are starting school – it is curiosity that promotes openness to new information and unfamiliar places, and curiosity that nudges us to seek to understand the perspectives of others. Here are our top tips to help families stimulate curiosity in their children and young people, and create happy, life long learners:
1. Invite questions: at the dinner table, on the bus, in the bath, in the dark… According to a recent study, curiosity peaks at the age of 4, and inquisitive children ask 73 questions a day!
2. Do it together! Collaborative projects are a great way to spark ideas, inspire creativity and increase enthusiasm. Curiosity is contagious!
3. Celebrate the process, not the product. The most transformative experiences rarely come home in a rucksack.
4. ‘I can do it myself.’ Celebrate this battle cry whenever you hear it. Children gain much more from an activity, if they are allowed to solve the problem for themselves.
5. Foster confidence. The next time your heart bursts with pride at the sight of your child’s latest amazing project, try to avoid showering the work with praise. Instead, isolate one interesting factor, and ask a question about it – your child will learn to value their own work, and not rely on external value judgements.
6. Show don’t tell. Let your child see you asking questions about the world around you, and they will follow your lead.
7. Get outside. The great outdoors is the best classroom for young minds. Unstructured outdoor play and observations of nature are key to inspiring questions and creativity. Seek out natural spaces and return to them often.
8. Play! Nothing stimulates curiosity and creativity more than unrestricted tinkering. So, turn your mobile to silent, switch off the TV, close the laptop, and start exploring, experimenting, creating and discovering with your child. In the wise words of Eleanor Roosevelt, ‘if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow a child with the most useful gift, that gift should be curiosity.’