Ian Leslie wrote an article for The Guardian in which he said, “Curious people are more alive, somehow; their eyes are lit from behind. They know more about more, which makes them more interesting.”

Do you agree with that?

Curiosity is inbuilt in children, as much as eating and sleeping.

From as young as two months old, a child will show a preference for an unfamiliar pattern, and as soon as a child can point, they are asking the silent question: What is it?

In his article, Ian Leslie points to a study which showed that a child will ask around 100 questions an hour. Parents – universally – have experienced this phenomenon.

This insatiable desire to know more is a fundamental key to a child’s mental development. The more they know, the more questions they have on what they know. It’s a self-perpetuating cycle where curious kids learn more, and learn faster, than children who have not been exposed to an environment which encourages their curiosity.

One psychological study entitled “The Wick in the Candle of Learning. Epistemic Curiosity Activates Reward Circuitry and Enhances Memory” made an interesting comment. They said, “In the information-gap theory, the object of curiosity is an unconditioned rewarding stimulus: unknown information that is anticipated to be rewarding. Humans (and other species, such as cats and monkeys) will expend resources to find out information they are curious about, much as rats will work for a food reward (Loewenstein, 1994).”

Not only is curiosity beneficial in young children, but it is also deeply rewarding.

They find knowledge – and the quest for knowledge – fulfilling.

Curiosity leads to discovery, stimulating the reward centre of the brain, creating new neural pathways with exciting new information, and then providing more questions to the thirsty mind.

Encouraging curiosity in young children is a wonderfully fulfilling job for parents and teachers alike. A curious mind is a joy to teach and promotes a highly efficient learning environment which actually works.

How will you encourage your curious child’s learning process?

As parents, we can do our share by spending quality time with our little ones, and being available to answer the inevitable onslaught of “Why?” Providing open-ended questions and encouraging our children to seek their own answers is a valuable tool to grow little minds.

Teachers at the Waldorf schools have been trained to actively encourage curiosity in their students. We welcome the “Why” and we teach children how to find answers.

Angelique Laaks