Children are born with a natural tendency toward curiosity. This is the way that we as humans naturally learn about the world. We have all experienced this as children are constantly asking a plethora of questions like:
‘Why do you wear your hat like that?’
‘What are those spots on your face?’
‘What do you like to play?’
‘Why is the sky blue?’
‘Why do some dogs have long fur and some have short?’
Curiosity leads to a deeper engagement with what the child is learning.
Through asking questions and finding the answers on their own, children learn many skills. They learn observation, patience, communication, theory development, and how to use new information to revise thoughts.
They learn that it is ok to take risks, they learn that sharing insight is important, they get the courage to try and replicate their learning. Children become empowered by choice and take ownership over the things that they are learning. This makes the learning deeper! When children are invested in their questions – they understand further, see connections to other areas of life, and can apply their learning to everyday.
It is so easy to answer kids’ questions with statements like – ‘’because I do’, ‘because they are’, or ‘that’s just the way that it is.’ Those answers are easy, but, they are not helpful. By not taking a few extra moments to engage in children’s curiosities we are, without meaning to, squashing their desire to wonder. Diminishing their desire to learn about the things around them.
Try by giving a quick explanation – ‘I like to wear my hat like this because it keeps the sun out of my eyes.’ This shows children that actions are intentional and that we are in charge of comfort.
‘These spots on my face are called freckles. Everyone looks a little different but we are all special the way that we are.’ A quick explanation can lead to guiding inclusive thoughts about others.
If you don’t know an answer – tell that to the child, ‘I don’t know why the sky is blue, but I have always wondered that. When we get home let’s try to find the answer together.’
Kids ask questions to learn about the world and to learn about other people. We want our children to grow up being critical consumers of the world – understanding it and understanding their role in it.
In order to do this, we have to continue to allow our children to ask questions, and when they do – participate in the wondering with them.