Curiosity didn’t kill the cat – it nurtures children
By Michele Soon
3 minutes
By Michele Soon

Photos taken in collaboration with Deborah Quek, featuring one of our ParentWise families

Do you remember the joys of discovering new things as a young child?

The secret to developing a love for lifelong learning in your children is to encourage them to be curious. But parents and caregivers don’t have to “make” their children curious or “push” their children to learn. Research shows that children are intrinsically motivated to explore and seek out new experiences.

In fact, a taste for curiosity and exploration is linked to future success in school.

Curiosity is something all babies are born with. They come into the world with a drive to understand how the world works. Take these familiar examples:

· A newborn follows sounds, faces and objects with her eyes. · A 9-month-old picks up bits from the floor and puts it into his mouth to taste it. · A 2-year-old will move chairs to climb up to check out what is in a box on the table.

It isn’t difficult to tap on your children’s curiosity as a learning motivator because their brains are designed to learn. What we can do is to provide our children with enriching experiences which will improve their learning potential.


1. Provide materials for open-ended play

Because young children focus on the joys of doing something rather than the actual outcome, open-ended activities are more satisfying for them. They prefer finger painting and playdough over a colouring book or pasting cotton balls on die-cut shapes.

Unlike some toys that are designed to be played a certain way, materials like boxes, blocks, water, sand, leaves, bowls, cooking ingredients or art materials can be used to spark your children’s imagination.

WISETIP AL-CUR-M0818-P01 Watch for what your baby is interested in playing with and exploring, and provide those materials.

Do not tell your child what to do with the materials you give them – let their curiosity guide them and the outcomes may surprise you.

You can also consider offering materials with contrasting texture and temperature to children. For example, show them how fabric is soft and warm while metals are hard and cold.

2. Bring them outdoors often The outdoors provides a rich base of experiences that allows children to explore the world beyond home and experience nature.

Children naturally have a sense of wonder and curiosity about the elements of nature such as the weather, trees, flowers, sand, water and animals. Making sense of the sights, smells, textures and sounds outdoors stimulates your children’s brain development, which in turn encourages exploration and fosters curiosity.

WISETIP AL-CUR-M1626-P01 Model an interest in the world around you. Take a walk outside with your toddler and wonder aloud about the trees, the sky, and the stars. Also, let your toddler see you pursuing interests of your own.

Children also learn by exploring materials in nature. Materials such as leaves, flowers and stones provide a variety of texture for exploration while inspiring imaginative play, a connection to nature and curiosity about the natural world.

3. Reduce screen time

Excessive exposure to digital media in children below two years old negatively impacts their attention span, language development and academic abilities.

Reducing screen time allows children more time to engage creative play both indoors and outdoors. The hands-on play builds curiosity, creativity and persistence which will benefit the child’s learning ability now and in the future.

WISETIP AL-CUR-M2436-P01 Reduce screen time and let your child develop interests naturally. If your child likes music, play it often, make and play instruments together, and dance together. If your child likes bugs, give them a shovel and a net, and find books on bugs to read together.

When your children are between 18 to 24 months, you can watch some digital media with them because children learn from watching and talking. Children between 2 to 5 years old should only watch one hour of good quality educational programmes a day.

At no time in life is curiosity more powerful than in early childhood. So don’t kill the curiosity the next time your child explores the uncharted – affirm the wonder and get right on board.

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