It really doesn’t take much to spark curiosity in a kid. They spend their days lit up with questions and quandaries, and aren’t afraid to share and explore. It’s this drive and enthusiasm that helps them develop and navigate the world.
It’s also what makes them natural philosophers.
While we’re inclined to be proud of our little thinkers’ big thoughts, we can also be intimidated by them. Philosophers of all ages wonder about questions that don’t have clear answers, questions that are difficult and often uncomfortable. Philosophers wonder about our identities as individuals, our relationships with others, and the nature of life and the universe. It may not seem like kid stuff, but it is, and they love it.
So, in the spirit of letting small philosophers be small philosophers, here are some tips for nurturing curiosity:
- Look for big questions everywhere. What they watch, read, listen to, play with, wear, and even eat can be inspirational.
- Make it known that there are no bad questions. Questions can be reframed so that they’re more accessible, but they’re all useful. There’s a kid version of just about every question.
- Closed-ended questions can still be useful jumping-off points. A yes or no answer doesn’t have to be the end of a discussion.
- Don’t be overwhelmed by a barrage of “why”. Ask your child to rephrase their question to be more specific.
- Make curiosity a family affair. Share your own curiosities with your child, and explore new topics together.
- Give a little thinker a place to record and store their curiosities, like a notebook, treasure chest or jar. Encourage them to write things down, collect objects, or even record their thoughts in audio/video clips.
Above all else, enjoy! Curiosity is one of the most endearing and fun parts of childhood, and it’s also rocket fuel for their academic and personal development. Fostering it in your child can also be an invitation to allow your own curiosity to flourish as well.