Awareness USA Blog

The Curious Case of the Case for Curiosity

Many of us are familiar with the idiom “Curiosity killed the cat”; however, the entire phrase is actually “Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it back.” The first (and most commonly referred to) half of the expression elicits a warning about the dangers of unnecessary queries but that admonition quickly becomes encouragement when the latter half of the phrase is considered. That extra phrase “satisfaction brought it back” changes the meaning of the expression entirely. 

Children are born with the extraordinary gift of curiosity. But all too often, when they aren’t encouraged to satisfy their natural curiosity (or worse, when they are admonished for tapping into their inner-Alice and exploring those “curiouser and curiouser” rabbit holes) that gift slowly wastes away. What a shame.  

Imagine if Benjamin Franklin hadn’t flown that kite during a thunderstorm, or Alexander Fleming hadn’t “played with mold” and serendipitously discovered penicillin. Every day, we utilize inventions and ideals that came about because someone was curious. Fostering a sense of curiosity in our children is vital to not only their personal development, but for the future of humankind.

Did you know that children who embrace their curiosity have been shown to perform better academically and socially, and tend to retain and recall information more easily? Curiosity has also been shown to increase happiness, character strength, and greater interpersonal relationships. While many teachers strive to promote a culture of exploration in their classrooms, curiosity must be nurtured and encouraged outside of school settings as well. Summer break provides the perfect opportunity to promote child-led learning by helping children do what comes naturally: being curious!

Here are some ideas for helping cultivate creativity and curiosity in children:      

  • Take them to museums, art galleries, concerts, movies, etc..
  • Explore nature together, and take pictures of some of the interesting things you find. 
  • Take turns telling collaborative stories together. For instance, my child and I like to play a game where one person chooses three random objects (such as an octopus, a jalapeño pepper, and a shoe) and the other person has to tell a short-story that incorporates all three of those things. 
  • Instead of asking questions that require a “yes” or “no” answer, try asking more open-ended questions with the use of who, what, where, when, why, or how, and praise imaginative answers. 
  • If you are curious about something, ask your child to help you find the information. Asking questions such as “I wonder if I can use baking soda instead of baking powder” will not only help promote curiosity but also give your child a sense of pride when they are able to tell you “No, because powder puffs, and soda spreads!” 
  • If your child asks a question that you don’t know the answer to, don’t be afraid to say “I don’t know, let’s find out together!” 
  • Simply playing with your child (even if it’s video games) is a wonderful way to encourage their curiosity, while spending quality time together. 

As caregivers, it is our responsibility to support, and encourage our children to reach their full potential. This means not only reassuring them that their curiosity is a beautiful thing, but also participating in their explorations with them. Truth be told, there are unlimited ways to promote curiosity in children. The added bonus is that when we nurture inquisitiveness in our children, we also reconnect with our own inherent sense of wonder.

“I think, at a child’s birth, if a mother could ask a fairy godmother to endow it with the most useful gift, that gift would be curiosity.” – Eleanor Roosevelt  

Share the Joy!

Kristyna Burczyk

July 4, 2021

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