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Fostering Curiosity

Written by Bethany Todd, in Collaboration with Laura Barr

Rational thought and knowledge has indeed surpassed the purity of wonder. Knowing about has usurped our ability and desire to just be with—to commune with our surroundings, to be present with life. – Vince Gowman

With smart phones at our fingertips and the ease of quick google searches, our culture values instant knowledge. Rather than using our logic and curiosity to think hard about things, we quickly find answers and move on to something new. There is so much to learn and know and such little time, right?!

Scott Kaufman’s recent article, The Underrated Gift of Curiosity in The Atlantic, reminds us that curiosity should not be undervalued, but rather, fostered, stating that it contributes to academic success and is a key characteristic of giftedness. Kaufman shares Gottfrieds writing from their book Gifted IQ: Early Developmental Aspects, quoting that “giftedness is not a chance event … giftedness will blossom when children’s cognitive ability, motivation and enriched environments coexist and meld together to foster its growth.”

Curiosity occurs when we wonder; when we are intellectually challenged, and our curiosity provides intrinsic motivation to learn. How can we foster curiosity in our children and students?

Practical Ways to Foster Curiosity

  • Engage children with child-like wonder
  • Don’t impose or assume an agenda on an activity
  • Ask open-ended questions
  • Go to the non-fiction section of the library and ask your child to pick a book that makes them wonder
  • End bedtime routines with a question, allowing children to go to sleep wondering about something new
  • Make time for rest. This is where reflection and thinking occur, especially for our non-nappers
  • Don’t be quick to give an answer. Children need response time. Silence doesn’t always mean they don’t know
  • Help children to understand that thinking is a way of exercising the brain. It gets stronger the longer and harder we think and wonder. Therefore, silence and “not knowing” are valued
  • Teach children to respond to questions with questions, rather than requiring answers
  • Be present to your child’s thoughts and play. Extend their thinking by listening to what they are actually saying and responding with enthusiasm
  • Kaufman suggests providing activities that “offer novelty, surprise, and complexity, allowing greater autonomy and student choice; they also encourage students to ask questions, question assumptions, and achieve mastery through revision rather than judgment-day-style testing.”


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