Curiosity vs. Intelligence
Research has shown that a person’s Curiosity Quotient (CQ) is as important as their Intelligence Quotient (IQ). Most classroom teachers would agree that qualities like curiosity and work ethic tend to outweigh intelligence in student performance. But how can parents help their children to develop curiosity? It turns out there are several ways. One is through play. By allowing children the space and time to interact with one another, they will develop both curiosity and imagination. Another is through reading. Books can take students on a journey to foreign places, throw them into the middle of a mystery, or surround them with a dystopian world. Books can help students discover people who are like them, or who are very, very different. Reading can lead to a deeper interest in the world as it is, and help students imagine how it could be.
Lighting the Match
Most libraries and many bookstores offer “storytime," or a special reading hour where children have the opportunity to hear a book read aloud to them. Often, the reader will ask questions to make the experience interactive. If your library or bookstore doesn’t offer this, you can do it at home. Read aloud to your child, and at certain points in the story stop and ask, “What do you think will happen next?” When the story finishes ask, “How would you have written that ending differently?” These questions will develop both curiosity and higher order thinking skills. If the book includes a topic that interests your child, have the child do more research after reading the book. Look up other books on the subject to see what’s been written on the topic. You may find a whole section in your library or bookstore dedicated to your child’s interests.
Nurturing the Spark
When you read to your child, stop yourself and wonder aloud. You can model curiosity by showing your child that you, too, enjoy learning. Start a sentence with the phrase “What if...?” and ask your child something about the story. Better yet, ask your child to use “What if...?” and to finish the question. Phrases like “What if”, “How”, “Why?”, “I wonder...” are great indicators of curiosity, and you can promote creative thinking by encouraging your child to ask. When they do, don’t simply answer their question, rather encourage your child to do research to find out more on the topic. While they are looking for one answer, let them know that it is fine to follow another question. It’s important for students to learn how to complete a project or follow a question to its conclusion, but they should also know that it’s fine to ask MORE questions along the way!
Fanning the Flames
If your child has a particular interest, let his or her teacher know. Teachers have many opportunities to allow students to follow an interest. They may allow the student to use their interest for a research paper, or a creative writing topic, or for a book report. It takes a village to raise a child, and that same village can become an excellent resource in helping your child develop curiosity! There are also websites like Wonderopolis.org dedicated to developing questions. Finally, listen to your child. When they express an interest, find the best age-appropriate books on the subject, and make time to read them together. Children need resources, encouragement, and great modeling to develop curiosity, a valuable lifelong skill.