Helping kids be open to learning and to trying new things
Storyberries offers free children's books and parenting suggestions for encouraging children to get curious about their world.
Learning is an activity that we carry out constantly. We can learn naturally and without any help. Much of our learning is spontaneous or ‘incidental learning’, but a lot is done on purpose and planned. Either way, we can develop strategies that help children to learn.
By exploration: touching, hitting, putting things in the mouth.
By experimentation: testing, by trial and error.
By repetition: throwing things on the floor again and again!
By imitation: copying those around them, be they adults or other children.
The role of the adult is to facilitate the child’s understanding of their environment: to act as a link. There is increasing evidence demonstrating the impact on child development of positive and responsive interactions with adults. Children’s openness to learning depends very much on how information is presented to them, so parents and teachers can help by creating positive environments for meaningful learning to take place.
Curiosity is the engine that generates our desire to investigate and experiment. This motivation is key for setting the complex process of learning in motion. Curiosity focuses the mind so that we can give full attention to learning. This state of heightened alertness, aroused by being curious, also activates our memory circuits, and our emotional responses (for example, desire) so that we are best primed to acquire new knowledge.
All of us, whether we are parents, extended family, neighbours, caregivers, or teachers, can take responsibility and help our children to learn by embracing their curiosity and interacting with them in such a way as to maximise their potential to learn.
Storyberries provides free online children’s books, and parenting tips – offering lots of ways to naturally encourage wonder, curiosity and a love of learning.
Beautiful questions!When children ask us questions, we can encourage their curiosity to learn more by showing enthusiasm, and by answering them as wholeheartedly as we can.
Encouraging kids to look for answersOne way of doing this is to encourage the use of reasoning to come up with possible or likely answers to kids’ questions. In this way, we are teaching them to analyse facts, make logical and reasonable deductions, weigh up different possibilities, and take an interest in finding out more.
Often we do not have a clear answer, so we can then do some more research in books (such as encyclopedias) or on the internet. In this way we are giving kids the skills to work in a similar way later when they are alone.
Being available to listen, play and learnChildren need to know that we are available for them. They want to know they can count on us and to feel reassured that someone cares about their concerns.
Creating a space to look furtherSometimes it is a good idea to respond to the child’s question by asking them a few other questions, to prompt them to think more fully and perhaps come up with an answer on their own.
Allowing kids to experimentWe can encourage kids by creating spaces where they can experiment. For example they might manipulate certain objects by taking them apart or testing them. This helps us to see the limits and consequences of our actions – for example, by learning what kinds of things can be taken apart and what happens when we do.
Get Creative!The Internet (and books!) are full of resources to help children design and make a whole range of different things, such as electrical circuits, yummy things to eat, small greenhouses, home inventions or personal gadgets.
Read, read and read!There are so many different books available to children – fantasy novels, graphic stories, non-fiction and biographies being just some of them. There are many alternatives for all ages. When children are introduced to a range of different books, they can select the ones that have the greatest affinity with their interests.
Set fun challenges!By setting children challenges tailored to their interests, we can prompt their curiosity and awaken their desire to complete the challenge, which, when felt to be a success, motivates their future desire to learn.
A Pebble In My ShoeA delightful, and beautifully illustrated, story in which a child reflects on where the pebble in their shoe has come from – inviting a journey of curiosity and wonder.
Catch A MoonA beautiful poetic story about two children and their heartfelt desire to catch the moon. Their curiosity is rewarded when they think up an imaginative way of doing so.
To The TopWordless picture books are really good for encouraging kids to imagine their own story-lines.
In this delightful picture book, a young girl opens her mind to new experiences as she and her daddy walk to the top of a mountain.
Article by Luzmery M. Romero Gamboa and Fleur Rodgers
Luzmery works in the area of clinical psychology as a psychotherapist for children, adolescents and families. Since 2016, she has run a Psychological Center in Venezuela called Psicoluz. She offers workshop facilitations to parents, is involved in recreational activities for children, and has been working as a freelancer since 2017 performing online psychotherapy.
Fleur is a meditation teacher in France and uses a compassion and loving-kindness based approach to meditation and slow-minded living. Fleur posts regularly to Instagram @rodgers.fleur . She has two children, is a qualified teacher in adult education and is the founder of Timeouttobreathe.com