Cultivating Curiosity in Kids Is Key for Academic Success

If Curious George was a kid instead of a monkey, there’s a very good chance he’d be a stellar student. That’s because curiosity is associated with academic achievement among kindergarteners, new research shows. For the study, researchers tested more than 6,000 kindergarten students’ reading and math skills. Their parents responded to surveys that included questions about their children’s level of curiosity such as whether they seem eager to learn new things, like to try new things, or engage in imaginative play. Researchers found that kids with who were very curious had stronger reading and math skills. The findings are published in the journal Pediatric Research.

As a parent, you’ve probably discovered that young children are naturally very curious. Seeking out ways to foster their creativity can help them strengthen this skill, which may payoff in school later. Here’s how to do just that.

Follow their interests. Kids’ curiosity takes off when they’re engaged in activities that they enjoy doing. Observe your child and discover what he or she loves to do—is it playing with toy cars? Exploring outside? Playing dress-up? Finger painting? Offer plenty of opportunities for them to experience activities that are meaningful for them.

Limit screen time. For children 2 years old and up, limit screen time to no more than one hour per day. This is important because giving children plenty of time for unstructured, unplugged play will help stimulate their creativity. 

Read with your child. Books are a wonderful way to engage your child’s imagination and curiosity. When reading with your child, respond to their questions and comments. Ask your child about the pictures and the story you’re reading. Talk about different emotions you encounter in the story and images. For example, “Look at that bear. How do you think he’s feeling? Why do you think he feels that way? What makes you feel like that?”

Keep art supplies handy. Art can give kids an opportunity to naturally express themselves. Keep simple supplies such as paper, crayons, markers, and tape available so they can sit down and use them any time they like.

When it comes to supporting your child’s curiosity, the most important thing you can do is pay attention to what gets your son or daughter excited about playing and learning. For example, if your child is curious about dinosaurs, borrow a stack of dinosaur books from the library. If your child enjoys art, visit an art museum or try an art class. And if you have an animal lover, be sure to visit the zoo or a local farm. Offering opportunities for children to explore, discover, and learn is the best way to engage their curiosity every single day.

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