As the scientists of NASA's Mars rover Curiosity are exploring and building their schema by watching it roll over Mars. Learning as Curiosity is meandering through ancient streambeds, exploring the Gale Crater, finding deposits as it makes its way to Mount Sharp. (NASA’s http://mars.jpl.nasa.gov/msl/)
Our children are exploring and building their attitudes toward learning through their curiosity. As parents nurture their child's curiosity, they instill the message that learning is useful and fun. Children, who observe adults being enthusiastic toward education and learning, will likely pursue knowledge. Children, like NASA’s Curiosity, need time to roll over, meander through, and explore many subjects and ideas.
There are several strategies parents can use to help children become curious, building intrinsic motivation to learn.
- Blocks, water, bubbles…Provide an environment that allows children to freely explore and to see the effect of their actions. Encourage him to express his opinion, talk about his world, and make choices about what their passions are.
- Travel, books, computer…Point out the new things you learn with enthusiasm. Discuss the different ways you find new information, whether you're looking for a new cookie recipe or taking an online class.
- Free time…Allow children ample time when working to allow for persistence. Children need time to become deeply involved with an activity. It may be building a rocket, a car, trying to swing a golf club, a baseball bat…they need unstructured time.
- Mountains, beaches…Find opportunities for to explore together and interact directly by working together on an activity.
- Rocks, Kites…Let your child choose his own interests. Encourage him to explore his passions and subjects that fascinate him, then show enthusiasm for his choices.
- Libraries, bookstores…Show your child how important reading is to you, -a priority in your life- by filling their home with reading and printed materials: books, magazines, newspapers, anything with words. Take turns reading with your child; establish a family reading time when everyone reads.
- Parks, fields…Provide situations that give your child a variety of challenges. Activities and open-ended play that provide him with play opportunities that support different kinds of learning styles — from listening and visual learning to sorting and sequencing. (Don’t forget your kinesthetic learner they just may need to bounce that ball for an hour as they work out a concept in their mind.)
- Time to reflect…Remember to ask them what they think of their work. Start by asking the question, "What do you think?" This way you give them the opportunity to evaluate and think about their own accomplishments.
- Everyone is a teacher…Each evening ask about what he's learning in school? Better yet, have him teach you what he learned in school today. Putting the lesson into his own words to help you understand will help him transfer what he learned, which is what mastery is all about.
- Organize space…Each evening help your child organize his school papers, backpack, and assignments so he feels in control of his work for the next day. The trick is to show them how to break a large daunting task into manageable pieces. (A huge learning for children.) This way they start the day fresh, spending less time worrying and more learning.
- Celebrate success…no matter how small, and focus on strengths, both will encourage talents. Turn everyday events into learning opportunities. Encourage him to explore the world around him, asking questions and making connections.
The world is an exciting new place for a child; to explore, discover, and learn about. As parents it is our joy to nurture their curiosity. To show them that around every corner is a new learning experience just waiting to surprise and excite their growing mind. With each new concept mastered they will become inspired for more knowledge.