If one thing about preschoolers is true, it is that they are curious little critters. No really. Preschoolers have an appetite for life and a hunger to learn more about the world around them.
Curiosity should be rewarded and treasured. Curiosity is what helps students grow and learn. If it weren’t for curiosity, I wouldn’t be typing this blog on a computer while sitting in a nicely lit room! All great inventions stem from curiosity.
Unfortunately we have been accidentally teaching kids to not be curious. We’ve been teaching instead of training the mind frame needed for kids to inquire for themselves.
1) Blame stifles confidence
I still remember a particular cooking class at one of my first school camps. We were learning how to make pancakes. As a kid, I loved drenching my pancakes in maple syrup and had the idea of mixing maple syrup in my pancake mix to have the mapley goodness throughout the pancakes.
The teacher didn’t say anything while I emptied what was possibly a quarter of a bottle of maple syrup into my pancake mix. She didn’t say anything when the mix turned into a bubbly, sticky mess. She waited until the class was eating to address my mistake. To the entire class.
While I can laugh at this now (and feel sorry for the teacher scraping blackened maple syrup from the pan), as a kid embarrassment like that can quite literally stick.
Your kids are curious. Sometimes their curiosity isn’t always clever or safe. While you don’t want to encourage dangerous ideas, you don’t want to discourage stepping out entirely. Explain don’t blame.
2) Encourage exploration
Give a kid a piece of paper and they can make a variety of paper planes, jets or even rockets. Give a kid a template and they can make one paper plane. You know from your experience what works best for you. Does this mean you should take the chance from kids to discover from themselves? Absolutely not.
Here’s a little Keswick Christian Camp secret: there is easily one best way to complete our confidence course. However we don’t want to limit kids. It is better for a kid to learn, discover and experiment than to be a winner. We could teach all of our kids little tricks to win at the confidence course. Or we could provide an opportunity for exploration.
“Curiosity keeps leading us down new paths.” Walt Disney
3) Open paths for deeper learning
Curiosity is in its definition an interest in something. If you told Sir Isaac Newton to write a book report on William Shakespeare, he probably would’ve been bored to tears, or imagine asking William Shakespeare to explore light and the speed of sound.
Kids are naturally more curious about certain things. When you assign kids a more specific topic to analyse, they are less likely to be curious because they are restricted. That’s the genius of science fairs – not every kid is interested in science, but most have a topic they are passionate enough in to explore. If you truly want kids to be more curious, broaden research topics allowing kids to choose what they want to focus on. They may just find their passion this way.