Children come already primed to learn, although many educators disregard that fact and therefore miss out on this potential.
They are primed by their natural curiosity. Which is why they do all those irritating things when they’re toddlers like opening cupboard doors, pressing keys and tapping the Ipad when you’re using it. They don’t do this to be annoying as it’s easy to think. They do it because they are naturally curious about the things around them and want to investigate.
Curiosity is part of their desire to learn. This desire to learn gets thrust aside if the whole focus of their education requires them to forget the things they’re curious about and concentrate on prescribed curriculum. So some educators rarely utilise it.
But home educators can use children’s curiosity to inspire learning experiences. This keeps the learning relevant, which in turn helps keep them motivated, thus developing a positive attitude to learning that lasts a lifetime.
All from curiosity.
We know they’re curious and keen to learn because children are always questioning. Answering their questions, discussing them, explaining and maybe doing some research together can extend learning across a range of subjects and experiences.
It doesn’t mean parents and teachers need to have all the answers. What it does mean is that we need to keep their curiosity alive by a positive response to it, encouraging children to find the answers, identify things we see, look things up we don’t understand, Google, explore on YouTube, follow up diverse leads.
For example, something as simple as ‘what’s for dinner?’ could lead to looking up foods and recipes, what foodstuffs we need for a balanced diet, researching what other elements of lifestyle keep us healthy, the human body, organs and functions, where foods originate from both their natural state and country of origin, what impact feeding the country has on the environment etc… The example could go on and on….so we need also to keep it relevant to the time, the child and be sensitive enough to know when to shut up and not overkill a subject and consequently their curiosity.
But the beauty of encouraging curiosity is that also encourages a positive and worthwhile attitude to, not only learning about the things around them, but to learning in general, to education in general. This will naturally expand into the wider world through encouragement, and as they mature extend into more formal learning practices, by which time they have a desire to do it for themselves. They will get to asking; ‘what do you need to have that job?’ Or ‘what jobs pay that much?’
Another valuable aspect of encouraging their curiosity is that it helps them to discover their own passions and talents, weaknesses and strengths, and eventually how to utilise them to their best advantage.
So when children are curious about something, what it is, why things happen, it pays us to keep that curiosity alive by fostering a positive attitude towards finding answers.
Finding answers increases understanding, knowledge and skills which is really what educating is about!