We can do many fantastic things for our children beyond just providing them with a safe and healthy upbringing (though that is not to underestimate that achievement!). Giving your children the joy of curiosity, or learning, or going beyond what is on the surface is to give them a gift that will stay with them for the rest of their lives. Wherever they go and whatever they do, they will have in their head the tools to look at the world from a unique perspective: their own. However, how do you do this, when so much curiosity has been sapped from minds through television and video games? The answer is to become engaged.
Responding to their Questions
It is tempting, after a long day of work and cleaning the house, to bat away your child’s questions. Nevertheless, think about what you are really doing when this happens. You are stifling their pursuit of knowledge, making it seem like they are very curiosity if not a virtue, but a vice. Instead, you can engage with their question and respond to it however you please, so long as it is positive. In fact, if they ask obscure questions such as ‘what is the moon made of?’ and ‘how do you get bed bugs?’, then there is every chance you will not know the answer. However, as long as you let them know that the question is valid and worth asking, you are doing OK.
Finding the Answer
If you are unable to answer the question you have been asked, or do not have the time to explain it, you can encourage children to the answer on their own behalf. For example, if they ask “what does a reindeer’s diet consist of?” you can challenge them to find the answer using, say, only books they can find in the library. You will go for a day out and they will get a thrill from pursuing knowledge in a library! Isn’t that fantastic?
Asking the Questions
You can further promote their curiosity by asking them questions about the stuff they seem to be interested by. Whatever they ask about it, you can respond by saying something like “and why do you think that is?” You will not get a correct answer, or should not expect one, but you will be teaching your child to think about problems in their own way. Getting a child to think about questions from multiple angles will be very good indeed – and it will show later on in their formal education.
There is a different train of thought when it comes to curiosity too: and it is, do not think about the answers to the questions at all. There is a great story Richard Feynman used to tell about walks in the woods with his father. His father would never tell him what the birds were call, because it did not tell him a thing about the bird. Instead, they watched how it moved, how it interacted with other birds. It is the real, deeper knowledge that actually matters, and not the surface level pieces of information. Try it next time you are out exploring!