Curiosity – An Essential Element

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Curiosity – An Essential Element
© Anne Geller

Fourteen-month old Julia toddles to the entertainment center, smiling at the red flashing lights. She pushes buttons and turns knobs until her father notices and says "no touching, Julia". Julia stands back and watches the lights flicker. A few minutes later she begins pushing buttons and turning knobs again. Her dad gently takes her hand and leads her away. "Here, play with Barney."

Five minutes later he finds Julia back at the entertainment center, pushing buttons and turning knobs. She looks at her father, and gives him a ten point grin.

"Insatiable curiosity" – whoever put those two words together must have had children. They must have been asked "why" until they thought they would scream. They must have held tight to a little one intent on joining the parade.

Observing our curious children is one of the many joys of being a parent. We love to watch them revel in simple acts, like opening and closing a door. Before they can even talk, we can almost hear them ask themselves, "How does this work?" We are at times dismayed at the results of their curiosity (like when they try mixing together all the ingredients in the cupboard). Still, we live vicariously through their explorations of a world that may be old to us, but is new and exciting to them.

Antoine de St. Exupery wrote, "What is essential is invisible to the eye." That statement is perhaps never more fitting than when applied to children. What we don’t see as our children explore their world is a growing brain, millions of neurons firing, new connections being made very day, existing connections being strengthened. All we see is a child hitting two blocks together or attempting to fit a square peg into a round hole.

Curiosity becomes a self-propelling motivation to learn. So we encourage it. We provide our children opportunities to touch, to smell, to question, to discuss, to compare – to wonder. If we are lucky, the curiosity of our youngsters rubs off on us – and we learn that marvelous discoveries could be just moments away.

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