Nurture the curiosity of a child’s mind. – Andrea Driver

Nurture the curiosity of a child’s mind. – Andrea Driver

Matariki, the Maori New Year is celebrated across New Zealand during late May, early June.

For many preschool and school age children this may mean a visit to the local planetarium, a time to prepare and share food, plant vegetables or a time to gather with family and friends to reflect on the past, celebrate the present, and plan for the future. In my world Matariki has evoked a curious thirst for exploration in my eight year-old daughter. A desire to learn more about the stars, planets and the solar system. I am sure my household is one of many, perhaps hundreds sneaking out into the wintry night to explore the wonder of
the stars.

From the moment of birth, perhaps even before birth, the child has an innate desire for curiosity and exploration. It is this natural curiosity and drive for growth and development that encourages the child to explore, question, and wonder, and by doing so they learn. Consider the newborn baby that tunes in to faces, sounds and objects, the toddler that is busy morning until night, walking, climbing and running and the four-year old’s inquiring mind full of ‘why’ and ‘how’ questions. Children are learning about themselves, about people, things and the world around them. Some want to explore with their minds while others explore in more physical ways. The more curious the child is, the more they will learn.

Curiosity is an essential disposition for our children to be the forward-thinking adults of the 21st century that we will need.

How do we as parents and educators nurture curiosity and ensure our children become curious adults and lifelong learners? One way is for parents is to be curious with their child. If they like music, play it for them, dance with them, make instruments together. Children learn so
much more through the activities that capture their attention and imagination.

You don’t need to have all the answers to your child’s persistent questions, pose your own thought provoking questions and explore together. Adult approval and positive attention is vital to reinforce the exploring child. It is through approval and warm, responsive interactions that
children develop a love for learning, build confidence and belief in themselves and their ideas.

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