Fostering Curiosity


I recently read the book Creative Schools by Dr. Ken Robinson. The book is a good discussion of issues that are facing educators today. Dr. Robinson includes some good thoughts about what schools should do (and provides some real-world examples of some of these things).

His discussion on curriculum was very interesting to me and still has me thinking. He lists eight competencies that schools should facilitate; what teachers do in the classroom should help students develop these competencies. In my next few posts, I’m going to examine those competencies and how we can provide those in the early childhood classroom.

The first competency mentioned is curiosity. Teachers should help kids begin to ask questions and explore how the world works. Curiosity is a must in the preschool classroom. Kids are naturally curious and are interested in the world and everything in it.

How can you create an environment that fosters curiosity?

Stimulate wonder. Engage the children’s thinking. Ask kids what they wonder about. Ask: “I wonder what would happen if….” “Is there something we could do to ….” “How could you do that differently?”

Provide unusual or unfamiliar materials. Bring something in the room that they haven’t seen before or don’t know how to use. Put a variety of interesting gourds on a table. Set a bin of barley on a tablecloth on the floor with scoops. Set out a collection of musical instruments from another country. Use a low-temp glue gun in the art center. Offer books on unusual animals and plants.

Use materials in an unusual way. Place cookie sheets in the blocks center. Paint with plastic hammers. Place magnet letters in a feel box for kids to explore with their fingers instead of their eyes. Set clipboards with paper and pencils next to the wooden puzzles.

Encourage kids to follow their own ideas. When a child wants to move something to the floor or try it in a different area of the room, say yes. Provide scissors and glue sticks on request (even if that’s not what you planned). Create masking tape roads across the entire room, even under the tables and chairs.

Welcome questions. Always be open to questions. Listen as a child asks about something. Encourage him to tell you his thinking. Offer a basic answer and allow him to ask for more information if he wants it. Say, “I don’t know but we can find out.”

What do you think? How do you stimulate curiosity in your classroom?

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