“We were lucky enough to grow up with encouragement to investigate whatever aroused our curiosity”.
These are the words from Orville Wright, the younger of the two Wright Brothers— the two American brothers who invented the first airplane.
Milton and Susan Wright had three more kids, but Wilbur and Orville went on to become world famous. While Wilbur was good in both academics and sports, young Orville had enormous curiosity and energy. Orville didn’t like school, but their parents were equally supportive to both. Though a large part of the Wright brothers’ success can be attributed to their hard work and perseverance, it would be unfair not to acknowledge the encouraging upbringing they got from their parents.
Children are curious by nature and want to know everything about the world around them. However, as they grow up, the world around them becomes more and more mundane and their curiosity tends to subside. That is why, giving young kids the opportunities to be curious and explore their environment is important for their development and well-being.
Dear parents and teachers, rather than trying to snub kids’ curiosity and creativity, support them in their endeavors, and not just academic ones. Instead of being suppressive, try to give their passion a positive direction. Who knows your kids and students would go on to achieve something as momentous as inventing an airplane? The following seven lessons are intended to help young students boost their curiosity and creativity.
Lesson One: Let the Kids See the World with Their Own Eyes
Travelling is a great learning tool, and not just for adults. Kids can also learn a great deal by going places. In addition to reading books and conducting academic exercises, make arrangements for the kids to interact with the real world. Take them to visit museums; let them organize picnics; if children are interested in a particular outdoor activity, arrange them to indulge in that. Prepare a well-targeted vacation plan for the kids, incorporating travels and visits related to their areas of interest. Take them overseas if affordable.
Lesson Two: Expose Them to Other Cultures
We live in a multicultural world. Schools and workplaces are becoming more and more cosmopolitan. Early exposure to other cultures can be useful for getting kids familiarized with those cultures. Such exposure would help them be more cognizant and tolerant towards other members of an increasingly diverse society. It will also prepare them for multinational workplaces of the future.
In addition to the long-term societal and professional benefits, getting to know how other people in other parts of the world live helps arouse children’s curiosity as well. As they ask more and more questions about other people, they develop a natural habit of being curious. Opportunities for overseas travel mentioned in the first lesson can also help kids expose to other societies, thereby arousing their curiosity about other people and cultures.
Lesson Three: Choose Meaningful Gifts for the Kids
Going back to the story of the Wright Brothers, their passion for building a flying machine was aroused by a toy aeroplane that their father had given them as a gift. Whether you are a parent, a relative, or a teacher, choosing a birthday gift for your kids or pupils remains a challenging task. Most people select toys or material possessions. These make great gifts but select them tactfully so that they remain meaningful and memorable for the kids.
Other than choosing toys and material gifts, you can offer kids some unique experiences—something they will remember and cherish for a lifetime. For instance, take them for a ferry ride, or mountain climbing; converse with them about the experience and the surroundings. This will help boost their curiosity.
Lesson Four: Ask Questions to Invite Further Questions
Being inquisitive is a key component of being curious. One of the ways to encourage your kids to be more curious is to be inquisitive with them. This can be annoying at times. Some of their questions would be meaningless and trivial but rather than discouraging them, answer those questions patiently.
If your kids don’t ask questions by themselves, start asking them questions. Be inquisitive with them and encourage them to ask back further questions. As they cultivate a habit of being inquisitive, curiosity will become their second nature.
Lesson Five: Make Them Good Observers
Curious people know how to observe the big and small details around them. Being a good observer is a symbol of a curious person. In order to make kids good observers, parents and teachers can play games with them where the children are shown places and people through pictures and then they are questioned about the details they have observed. Writing down your observations is also useful for stimulating curiosity.
Lesson Six: Break Their Routine
Breaking children’s routine can be a good way to arouse their curiosity. For instance, if you normally don’t pick them from school, amaze them with a surprise visit. Or get them at half time— with teacher’s consent off course— and take them for their favorite ice cream. Change the bar soap they use and ask them about their experience with the new soap. Invite their besties (friend, cousin, aunt, uncle etc.) to lunch without telling the kids; surprise them at the last moment.
Lesson Seven: Do Some DIY Projects with Kids
You learn best by doing it yourself. Indulge your kids in some Do It Yourself projects. For instance, most kids love cakes, but they don’t know how to make one. Bake a cake together with your kids showing them the whole process starting from ingredients to the final product. The whole transformation from flour to the cake would be an interesting exercise that kids would watch with curiosity.
If you are a hands-on dad, involve your kids with your weekend repairs. Start with small tasks and let them do it themselves. When Steve Jobs was a kid, he used to help his dad in his car repairs— being a helping hand introduced young Steve to the world of design and technology. Who knows your curious kids become the next Steve Jobs or Wright Brothers?