Situations to Stimulate Curiosity and Learning

Situations to Stimulate Curiosity and Learning

Situations to Stimulate Curiosity and Learning

Have you ever read something that just stuck with you? You know, no matter what else you read or saw your brain kept coming back to that same thought? That happened to me today as I was doing some research. I ran across this question, “How do teachers create situations and opportunities that guide children to act on their natural powers of observation and curiosity and seemingly direct their own learning?”  A well-educated teacher with a passion for teaching children would certainly know how to do this, but what about parents, caregivers, and students just entering the early childhood education field? Would they know? Let’s take a look at some of the ways teachers create situations to stimulate curiosity and learning during those formative early childhood years.

Introduction of a New Item

If you hand a child an item they are not familiar with, what do you observe to be their first reaction? In my experience, they do one of two things. 1) Look at it for a moment then walk away, or 2) pick it up and try to figure out what it is and how it works. More children choose option two than option one. It’s in their nature to be curious.

My granddaughter, at 18 months, picked up my cell phone, unlocked it, opened the gallery, and proceeded to swipe through the pictures. I didn’t teach her this, no one did. She watched curiously as others manipulated through their phones. Children are very quick studies. When you don’t think they are paying any attention, they are.

Dramatic Play

Do your children like to play house? Doctor? School? This is dramatic play. There is nothing more fun than watching a group of kids play in the dramatic play center. They are acting out things they have seen in their lives. One day I was watching a group of children play in the dramatic play center. If you’ve never sat and listened to children doing dramatic play, it’s a must. You will definitely have a laugh. A little girl was pretend cooking. Her pretend husband walked up and looked in her skillet. He promptly said, “Can you ever cook the bacon without burning it”. There was nothing really in the skillet, but nonetheless, I had to cover my mouth to keep from laughing.  The little girl cut her eyes at him and told him, “If you want to eat today you better set down!”

Not only do the children act out things they see in their homes, but in the public as well. They imitate people from the grocery store, department store… etc. They pretend to be firemen, police, doctor’s, teachers, you name it and they act it out. If you want to experience dramatic play, ask your child to play house with you and let them be the parent.

Open-ended Questions

Nothing stirs a child’s mind like asking them a question that has no right or wrong answer. Ask open-ended questions: What’s your favorite season, why do you think the sky is blue, what do you want to be when you grow up… etc. Just sit back and listen to what they have to say. Children love to talk, but more importantly, they love to be listened to.  They have opinions on many things and want to share them with anyone who will sit and listen.

Experimenting

Children have an innate curiosity to know how things work. They love to conduct experiments. They want to know how things fit together. What makes this do that? They want to know. There are millions of websites with simple experiments that can be conducted in the home or classroom. (Experiments for preschoolers)

When my son was young and in scouts, we spent hours, working on a derby car. He learned so much about gravity, aerodynamics, balance, weight, and design of a car. He was just a little guy, but it sparked his interest in doing things with his hands. He loved to take apart machines and put them back together. He just wanted to see how it worked. He was conducting his own experiments. Give a child some nuts and bolts and a few pieces of raw material and they will build the fort of their dreams. It may not look like it would if you built it, but oh what they are learning as they build.

Situations to Stimulate Curiosity and Learning

There is a multitude of situations that stimulate curiosity and learning, as adults, we have to seek those out and implement them. We must connect with the child and be very interactive in their lives. We have to be open to those teachable moments just driving down the road, eating dinner, watching television… there are so many teachable moments that fall by the wayside because we don’t seize the opportunity to utilize them.

Author: Belinda Davis ©2018