Mom Tip Monday: Fostering Curiosity

by Heligirl on April 18, 2011

in Daily Ramblings

Sometimes we as parents and caregivers can become too wrapped up in trying to schedule and plan the days and activities for kids. While it is very important to develop routines and keep to them in order to help children feel comfortable and secure in their environment, over planning and dictating the learning can have an opposite effect.

In fact, I recently received an article from a preschool pal titled Why Preschool Shouldn’t Be Like School, which both illustrated the negative effects of forced learning and emphasized the importance of play. It helped reinforce my feelings that we need to find healthy balance. I think that can be obtained by simply following our children.

I strongly believe that we can best teach our children by taking their lead. They have a natural curiosity about the world and simply being in tune with what strikes their fancy can open new opportunities to teach as well as foster curiosity to learn more.

Slow down and take notice of what your child is curious about and run with it. Is he completely obsessed with diggers or cars? Simply checking out books from the library, even picture books for the very young, to read together will please him to no end and give you quality time. Then plan a drive by a construction site. We have a new grocery store being built in our neighborhood and the number of moms with toddlers just standing around watching makes me wonder why I don’t invest in a coffee stand at that street corner.

At home, I’m putting the “follow their curiosity” philosophy to work.

This past month Sweetness has begun to really notice Spring for the first time. It’s her fourth Spring and every flower, leafing tree and dandelion gets special attention during walks and drives these days.

She’s also pulling out an old picture book about a seed that grows into a sunflower and “reading” it a lot. I even caught her reading it to her baby brother.

That gave me an idea.

While we were at the grocery store Thursday we stopped by the seed rack. The sunflowers were all down at Sweetness’s level. I told her we would grow her very own sunflowers; she just had to pick out the color she wanted. They had about three different kinds, from the red and orange ones to the mammoth sunflowers that made the seeds we eat.

She chose the mammoth ones, which I can only guess is because they looked on the cover of the seed packet just like the sunflower in her book.

It was pouring rain all day Thursday, but she asked me nonstop the rest of the afternoon if we could plant the seeds. Finally, around 4 p.m. when the rain slowed down to a sprinkle, we put on our rain gear and went out to plant her seeds.

Now I hear her questions about where the sunflowers are every two hours.

So to further foster as well as answer her curiosity I put two seeds in an old baby jar and filled it with potting soil. I made sure the seeds were against the side of the jar so we could watch the germination.

I also put two seeds in a ziplock bag with a wet paper towel, something I remembered my kindergarten teacher doing with us when I was 5.

While we wait for her sunflowers to peak through the soil in the back yard, she’ll be able to watch the germination in her two little indoor experiments and, if the squirrels don’t dig up her seeds outside, we’ll see her sunflowers pop through the soil at about the same time.

As an extra benefit, she’s also learning a little bit about patience and delayed gratification just by having to wait and watch nature take its course.

What are some ways you foster curiosity in kids? What did they seem to respond to best?


Twitter: Heligirl
April 18, 2011 at 9:36 am

UPDATE: I prepared this post over the weekend, and today, Monday, we already have a root coming out of one of the seeds in the plastic bag. That was fast, and Sweetness is beside herself with excitement. This has been a very fun experiment!

Carol April 18, 2011 at 9:46 am

My girls are infatuated with horses and as luck has it we pass several horse ranches everytime we leave our house. We’ve purchased several books on horses includying an encyclopedia and I’ve learned more about horses in the process than I ever would have imagined. We have toy horses that they play with, and any time the horses are close to the fence, I pull the car over and let the girls get out and watch them. We made a horse on a stick by using an old sock and a yard stick. They are learning about horses and having fun doing it. Great advice!

Twitter: Heligirl
April 18, 2011 at 2:16 pm

I love it Carol. That’s so great how you’re taking their infatuation and running with it. Mr. Man is totally into garbage trucks and buses. We’ll watch the garbage truck come on Tuesdays from the front window (as far as I’ll go, a mom has to have her limits), but we love to watch the buses go by together. If only they’d love horses! 🙂 I love your “sock horse” idea. That’s so creative.

Susan April 18, 2011 at 5:59 pm

My son has always loved to watch a construction site. Now that he’s older (8), there are days when we’ll pack a snack or lunch and just go for a walk, eating our food whenever we get hungry, where ever we are. Fun times!
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Ellen April 19, 2011 at 10:32 pm

My two year old loves choo choo trains, buses, garbage trucks, and anything big that moves. Last weekend we too him to the zoo… via public transportation for the first time, so we could talk about the big buses and light rail. It was grand!
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Melissa {adventuroo} April 20, 2011 at 6:21 am

Great advice! I sometimes think I should be “schooling” them but Big Roo gets enough at that one his daycare days so when we’re home I just go with the flow. I sometimes feel guilty but thanks for the reminder that he’s learning just from experiencing too!
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corina May 4, 2011 at 7:45 pm

We got a couple of big magnifying glasses & we go thru out the house & yard regularly looking at bugs, rocks, & bodyparts. Makes for interesting discussions & further investigations. Its nice when they discuss those related topucs on “Sid the Science Kid”. Cheers!

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