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Instilling Curiosity in Children for More Effective Learning

“Curiosity killed the cat / But satisfaction brought it back,” rock icon Iggy Pop once sang.

Curiosity is a powerful quality in every person. It’s what drove famous scientists to discover everything we know today, from penicillin to atomic radiation. Science might not have progressed if scientists didn’t have the innate curiosity to explore the world’s peculiarities. It’s also the driving tool to engage students to learn in school.

Curiosity makes students think critically. When their interest is piqued, a strong desire to learn about it sparks in them. It’s what makes kids look up in the sky and ask, “Why is the sky blue?” When a child sees a younger sibling, they may ask, “How are babies made?”

It’s up to both the parents and the teachers to harness the children’s curiosity and turn it into a true desire for learning. 

But how do you spark interest in your students’ minds? Here are some ideas.

Create lesson plans that allow for curiosity to manifest.

When making lesson plans, leave openings in your lessons for students to ask questions. Encourage questions; never dismiss them. You’ll see how curious they are if they begin to ask “why?” or “how?” “Why did the Civil War happen?” “How did they discover penicillin from a basement?” Keep the conversation going and let students learn by asking them their reason for asking that question. That way, you can get the ball rolling and let students learn.

Teach students the value of curiosity.

Acknowledge your students when they become curious about a topic. While some ask questions to pad their grades, you need to create an environment of learning. So, reinforce curiosity when you see it. There are no stupid questions for the curious mind. But you can teach them how to ask good questions, especially with difficult topics.

Let students tinker and learn.

Encourage curiosity within them by making them learn on their own and explore. If you’re handling a writing class, instead of asking students to write on journals, why not encourage them to blog? What content will they put in? How would they design the blog? If you’re teaching maths or science, ask students to apply the lessons they learned in real life. Let them innovate and explore using the concepts they learned inside the classroom.

child giving a thumbs up at school

Find teachable moments.

When students are confounded, bright little faces contorted in puzzlement, some questions need to be answered. You can use this as a time to teach them the lesson.

Apart from that, current events and real-world stories often offer a multitude of lessons for the curious mind.

Take Halloween for example. For some, it’s just a time to wear costumes and go trick and treating. In the UK, it’s when Brexit is supposed to happen. Students may ask about the real-world implications of Brexit. NASA’s Mars Curiosity Rover could also be a starting point for discussions about the space race, the Cold War, or astronomy and astrophysics in general.

Give students time to think.

Not everyone learns at the same pace. And when you just dredge on to your lessons, your students’ curiosity about the subject may wane. Give them time to think and absorb the lesson.

In quieter moments, such as when they’re only answering learning to write worksheets at home, inspiration comes to them. The next day, they might discuss their “eureka” moment with you.

Teaching children is more than making kids know the answers. It’s about educating kids to apply what they learn in real life. Instil curiosity in young minds to facilitate a deeper and wider understanding of concepts. 

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