Encouraging curiosity in early childhood: Here's what to know

While a child’s curiosity flourishes at an early age, it is important for you to foster your child’s love of new ideas and experience.
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By Michelle Balani

Curiosity is asking questions and seeking answers about the world. Children are naturally curious as they grow, learning about the world around them through every experience and social interaction. While a child’s curiosity flourishes at an early age, it is important for you to foster your child’s love of new ideas and experiences. A child’s brain thrives on new experiences and activities, and curiosity drives her intellectual and personal growth. Curiosity also plays an important role in her relationships. As your child grows, she is discovering all about others through her social interactions, and she is learning how to test and establish boundaries in these different relationships.

Be creative. One way to do this is to turn errands into expeditions. If you’re walking to the grocery store, stop and point up to the sky, and ask her what the clouds look like. When you get home, you can prepare some hot cocoa with marshmallow clouds and explain what clouds do. It is a powerful conversation starter with young children to ask, even for the most everyday activities or situations, “Why do you think that happened?” or “How do you think that happened?”

Provide her with opportunities to engage in creative play with friends. For example, create a make-believe castle with blankets and furniture, and invite her friends over. Bring out some old clothes and other items that can be used as costumes. While adult supervision may be necessary, your child’s curiosity can be further nurtured if you let her play with her friends freely and allow them to come up with their own ideas.

Parent Toolkit resources were developed by NBC News Learn with the help of subject-matter experts, including Judy Willis, Neurologist, Teacher, Author, International Lecturer, University of California, Santa Barbara; Jennifer Miller, Author, Confident Parents, Confident Kids; and Michele Borba, Author, and Educational Psychologist.