Fred Rogers reminded us that when children see their parents and caregivers wonder about the things in the world, ask questions, notice things, look carefully and try to figure things out, then they’ll want to be curious about the world around them, too.
A mother once told us what she discovered on a walk with her young child. “We were just going to the end of the street to the mailbox and back, but my daughter could have made it an all-day trip! First, she squatted down for a closer look at ants coming out of a crack in the sidewalk. Then she heard some birds above her, so we had to stop while she tried to find where those birds were, high above her in the tree. She kicked a stone into a puddle and watched the ripples…and then another stone…and another one! I never knew there was so much to see and do in that one little block between our house and the mailbox!”
Young Scientists at Work
Call it dawdling. Call it distraction. Preschoolers are naturally curious creatures. They’re engaged in a love affair with the world — as if they’ve suddenly opened the front door of their home and discovered there’s a whole world around them. Even little things become fascinating to them. At this age, they’re scientists, observing and experimenting. They’re hungry to know about the world.
Excitement of Discovery
Curiosity is one of the most important tools a child can develop for school — and for life. Even before children are capable of actually learning how the body works, how animals behave, how machines work, how the different parts of the environment fit together, or what the stars and planets are about, they can begin to find excitement in discovery. They can gain a sense that they and their world are wondrous creations, and see that there’s much to learn about in this wonderful world.
Just as our children can open our eyes to the marvels in the world around us, we. can play an important role in encouraging their curiosity. Some of my deep appreciation for nature also came from growing up in a small town, where there were many adults around us who had a sense of wonder and respect for the woods, the streams, the birds, the bugs, and the wildflowers.
When children see that you wonder about and care for living things, when you marvel at a flower or a sunset or the moon on a particular night, that gives them a respect for nature, too. It’s contagious!