Supporting teens' curiosity: Here's what to know

Curiosity involves asking questions, finding answers and creating solutions, as well as not being afraid of failure.

Curiosity involves asking questions, finding answers, and creating solutions, as well as not being afraid of failure. Curiosity is essential to discovering more about the world, dealing with anxiety and obstacles, and being resilient. Research has found that curiosity has a positive impact on academic performance and is a strong predictor of potential. If you encourage your teen to be actively curious and to engage in inquiry, you are not only helping them find the value in new ideas, but also opening up their mind to new possibilities and supporting their lifelong learning and creative innovation. You are also providing them with an important tool that they will need in college and in their career.

Encourage your teen to ask questions and to be resourceful. In high school, many teenagers are embarrassed to speak up in class and ask questions because they fear disapproval from their peers or teachers. Encourage your teen to step out of their comfort zone and participate in class discussions, and explain to them that curiosity and inquiry are critical to learning. You may also want to use this as an opportunity to discuss any social anxieties they may have, like being afraid of group assignments or meeting new people, and help them come up with ways that they can deal with them. Resourcefulness is a key aspect of curiosity, and if you talk to your teen about finding creative ways to solve problems, they will be better prepared to deal with challenges, conflicts, and personal obstacles.

Ask your teen to plan a family outing. You can help develop your teen’s curiosity, interests, and math skills by providing them with a small budget and asking them to plan an activity that the entire family can enjoy. For example, it can be an outing to a place that encourages your teen’s interests, like an art museum or a cultural festival. The way it’s carried out and the time allowed for this activity are up to you, but simply encouraging your teen to use their imagination to come up with these types of events related to their passions will allow them to put their curiosity into practice.

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.