Playing, observing, listening, and experimenting are all key aspects of the learning process of infants and toddlers. What most parents do not realize, however, is that the learning skills and overall personality of their children can be significantly developed by arousing their curiosity and channeling it the right way.
Although curiosity is an innate quality, the amount of nurturing a child’s curiosity undergoes plays a major role in shaping their future as learners, leaders, and innovators. Right from infancy, babies exhibit a natural tendency to explore and experience new things. New faces, unusual sounds, bright colors, and unfamiliar shapes pique the curiosity of infants and toddlers alike. The way a child uses a rattle set — biting, shaking, touching, and staring — for example, tells us a lot about the high degree of curiosity that babies are born with.
With each year of their growth, babies discover new aspects of curiosity, embarking on a lifelong journey of learning. Parents have an important role to play in making this journey meaningful.
Some easy ways parents can channel their kids’ curiosity productively and creatively include:
· Acknowledging tastes and interests: Kids exhibit varying amounts of individuality in their tastes and preferences right from their early years. The attractiveness of toys, books, rides, etc., differs from child to child depending on individual tastes, and parents need to identify and acknowledge this.
· Encouraging questions: Kids love asking questions, and one of the most common mistakes parents make is ignoring or discouraging their questions. Parents should inspire children to ask questions and encourage them to ask questions that will open up the world of discovery.
· Participating and involving: Join your kids in their games and activities, but leave it to them to decide what to do with their blocks, boxes, and toys. Follow their lead and let them make decisions. Read their favorite books to them, and if they have their own stories about the pictures, be attentive and acknowledge their creativity. Be an attentive partner and occasionally involve them in the activities of grown-ups, like asking them for little favors in the kitchen (passing a bowl) or drawing-room (helping tidy up).
· Creating new experiences: Expose them to new toys, environments, and people. Allow them to reach their conclusions and find solutions when interacting with new things. Help them gradually develop the ability to assess things independently.
Developing the right kind of curiosity in children goes a long way in strengthening their learning and decision-making skills. A recent study carried out by Johns Hopkins University suggests that curiosity in infants and toddlers could be an indication of their future cognitive ability. Parents must, however, ensure that their babies’ learning and experimentation takes place in a safe environment and with the right materials and appropriate toys.