Children are naturally curious and eager to learn. They are full of questions about their world. You may be doing the most mundane activity, such as grocery shopping, picking up mail from the post office, or doing laundry, but to your kids it’s all new and exciting! They will want to know how everything works and why people around them are doing whatever it is they are doing. To them, their questions are of the utmost importance in that moment. Do you take the time to explain?
Talk Read Sing
First 5 California recommends we talk, read, and sing to our kids from the time they are newborns through preschool age to encourage that love of learning. Kids at this age soak up every bit of information around them and you, the parent, are their biggest mentor. Model that love of learning by discussing how, why, and what you are doing throughout the day as well as singing and reading daily, which teaches so much about language, rhythms, patterns of speech, and more.
All human’s are eager to learn, including adults, but often that eagerness is stifled or indirectly discouraged. As kids get older and more is required of them as to what and when they are “supposed to” learn, they stop asking questions. If you had a question you considered important and people continually brushed you off for lack of time or because they thought you should be interested in something else at that moment, you would probably become frustrated, discouraged, start to believe your questions don’t matter, and eventually stop trying. But, if someone took the time to give you detailed answers, you’d probably have more questions and would continue to learn until you were satisfied on the topic of interest. You would be confident in asking questions the next time your curiosity is piqued. It is no different for our children.
We live in a world that is busier than ever for parents. With all you have on your plate, you want to get simple daily tasks done as quickly and efficiently as possible, but rather than dismiss your child to go play, even if it takes a bit more time, what if you involved your child? Sometime you truly do need to hurry, but if you make it a habit of discussing what interests your child, he will be confident that his thoughts and opinions matter. He will be more curious and have a greater desire to learn throughout his life.
I challenge you to involve your child in all you do each day, so long as they are interested.
Let them help fold laundry, even if it’s messier. Give them a sponge to wipe down cabinet doors (even if they don’t need cleaning) while you are doing dishes. Find a way for your child to help. Most of all, give them informative answers no matter what their age. Ask them questions and have an open discussion until they no longer seem so interested. The more they ask, the more detailed your answers should be, but if they are losing interest, just stop at a simple explanation. There will be plenty other questions to come, as you know. If you don’t the answer, show your child how you can find out, but looking it up online, getting a book from the library, etc. It’s even more important for your kids to learn how to learn that memorizing facts.
Sample Questions to Ask Your Child:
- What color is this? Can find another the same color?
- Can you match all the socks?
- Which pants are longer? Why are they different sizes?
- Can you find the eggs? Look for a sign that says “Dairy”. It starts with a “D”. Can you find a D?
- The cereal is on isle 2, can you find isle 2? (point out the numbers above each isle)
- This cheese is $5 and this one is $7, are they the same size? Which one is a better price? Why?
- Do you see that the P.O. boxes are in rows? Why do you think they put the numbers in order?
- Can you follow this row that starts at 100 and find number 123?
- What shape are these boxes? Squares or Rectangles?
- Why do you think those boxes are bigger?
- How do mail workers get mail into all of these?
Even if you feel the math is over your child’s head, it’s great to introduce that you are using math and how you use it so they can begin to see that it’s a necessary part of every day life.
Discussing what you are thinking, how you make decisions on what you buy, why you fold a t-shirt a certain way, how you find your P.O. box in the long rows of boxes, all these things help your child to problem solve and develop a life long love of learning as well as a trust in you. If you are open and listening to their questions now, no matter how silly they may seem at times, they will continue to come to you with questions as teens with much more important concerns.
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How I got here
I am now a published author, doing what I love. I developed a love of reading early on. My parents read to me every day from a very young age and always encouraged my questions. They discussed daily life with me, answered all my questions honestly, and encouraged me to talk, read, and sing with them. They modeled a learning lifestyle and my love of books, poetry, music, and art grew.
Your child may not become an author, but when they have the confidence to keep questioning their world and a love for learning, they will go further in life and have bigger goals for themselves.
Learning Activities and Development
First 5 California offers learning resources with fun ideas to engage with your baby, toddler, or preschooler in educational activities. My preschoolers love the guessing and matching games. Oh and there’s a playdoh recipe, if you haven’t made your own yet, it’s such a fun activity to do with your kids, a home made bubble recipe!
The First 5 California website also offers information on how a child’s brain develops, which I think is fascinating! You can check out baby brain development in language, reading, motor skills, or at the preschool stage.
Oh and they have some fun and educational videos where you can learn about healthy eating, educational activities, learning during everyday moments, caregiver advice, and much more.
Go to the First 5 website and explore!
Every moment can be a talk, read, sing, learning opportunity. And this doesn’t end once your child is school age. Model a love of learning, ask questions, and answer your child’s questions truthfully. Offer more detail the more interested they are. It’s so important not to dismiss their curiosity, but to encourage it to instill confidence and life long love of learning.