Raising curious kids
We’re all born with a natural curiosity. Studies confirm this. If you’re a parent or have spent time with babies and toddlers, you know this to be true—they touch everything, put all sorts of things in their mouth. As kids get older, their curiosity can manifest with never-ending “What’s that?” or “Why?” They’re eager to learn about everything that’s happening around them.
Somewhere along the way though, some kids seem to lose this enthusiasm for learning. For some, school becomes about grades, or worse, anxiety and pressure. It’s important to raise kids who will continue to love learning because when they do, they become more engaged in school. At best, a love for learning helps build resilience, which allows our kids to bounce back from difficulties and failures as they grow up.
So how do you raise kids who love to learn? Here are a few ways to provide children with a positive attitude and a safe space to be curious and learn.
1. Encourage their interests.
What do your kids enjoy doing? What do they like to talk about? According to a cognitive scientist and researcher cited in this Harvard GSE report, one doesn’t “foster curiosity as a trait.” Instead, you “create situations that can prompt and guide a child’s curiosity.”
Growing up, artist Yana Ofrasio watched her parents working on papermaking, painting furniture, and being in a household filled with creativity. Being in “a very colorful, art-filled household” certainly exposed her to different forms of art.
Even if you don’t have an art-filled home though, you can always provide opportunities for your child to explore what he likes to do. Provide a trip to Mind Museum in BGC to see the Universe Gallery if your child is into everything outer space. At home, have a little reading nook, a box of materials for kid-friendly science experiments, or an arts and crafts corner for some creative hobbies. (Check the webshop here or bring them to any of the Common Room branches to see what they find interesting.)
2. Let them ask questions.
While it’s tempting to say, “because I said so” when the whys never end, a child’s curious nature should be seen as something positive. It means they’re interested in the world around them. If you don’t have an answer to their questions anymore, you can always ask some questions yourself.
Pose questions that don’t necessarily have a correct answer or ask their opinion about the subject they’re interested in. Instead of testing his memory with a question like, “What are the dwarf planets in our solar system?” You can ask, “What do you think would happen if Earth had two moons?” Of course, make your questions age-appropriate. It’s about encouraging your child to think critically.
3. Encourage independence.
Does your kid want to tinker around your garden just like their lola? Or make his own scrambled eggs for breakfast? As much as it’s important to let kids try age-appropriate activities—it’s just as beneficial that we allow them to fail and try again. Let them crack an egg (if you don’t want them near the stove), get dirt in their hands as they help with gardening.
While it can be difficult, especially for helicopter parents (guilty!), allowing kids to make choices (within reason, of course) and have some independence teaches them they can do things on their own. It fosters confidence and helps build resilience.
According to this Medium piece on the importance of resilience and why kids these days don’t have enough of it, being self-reliant at an early age, independence, and self-sufficiency are among the common aspects of a childhood that builds reliance. As parents, we’re there to support our kids without spoon feeding.
In the interview of Elly Ang about how she started Danger in Design, it showed how parents can remain supportive with their grown kids and let them do the work. Elly shared that after collecting pins, she told her mom that she wanted to make her own. “I like that it’s cute and the designs are relatable… I was inspired by the artists abroad and my mom was like, ‘Okay, we can try it.’ She was very supportive.” After that, Elly began her research, searching for manufacturers, etc. before getting down to the business of making her own pins.
4. Let them make mistakes.
We want to encourage independence so we let our kids help us prepare pancakes or make their own art with lots of paint, glue, or whatever material they fancy at the moment. But when they knock over the bag of flour or mix the glue with all the paint, do we get angry and upset?
Kids are bound to run into accidents or make mistakes as they try new things or develop skills. We need to show them it’s all part of the learning process and remain encouraging. We also need to refrain from jumping in when they’re trying to finish a task just to get it over and done with (guilty, again!)
As fellow parents and experts advise, let children figure it out on their own while remaining supportive. In one example cited, if they break things (or in the case of one successful entrepreneur, he took apart doorknobs in their house when he was a kid), make them put it back together. Let them learn to fix it themselves.
5. Be a role model.
Our kids keep a close eye on what we do. Especially when they’re young, children imitate our habits—including how we approach learning, when we find new ideas and how we pursue them.
If we want to show them the importance of setting aside time pursuing our curiosities and interests you can take a page from journaling pro and crafter Nica Cosio. In our YT interview on journaling tips, the mom of three shares that she dedicates a specific time to quiet down and do journaling. Every Sunday, she together with her family spend time together in their coworking space wherein she journals.
For crochet jewelry designer, Nike Nadal-Reyes of Nyuki & Co., she shows her kids how it’s important to stick with what you love to do because it will hone your skills. “When I quit, it was then that I realized that this is what I really enjoy doing. Stick with it and fight for it.”
We can show our children in many different ways, big and small, how we can be lifelong learners. From setting aside time to hone our skills or interests to picking ourselves up with grace when we make mistakes and fail.