noun cu·ri·os·i·ty \ ˌkyu̇r-ē-ˈä-s(ə-)tē , ˌkyər- \
The desire to learn or know more about something or someone
1:desire to know:
a :inquisitive interest in others' concerns
The construction inside their house aroused the curiosity of their neighbors.
b :interest leading to inquiry
Her natural curiosity led her to ask more questions.
According to Dr. Bruce Perry, Curiosity is the fuel of development:
Here are some excerpts from his interesting article, that was published in Early Childhood Magazine and on the Scholastic website:
"Children are such curious creatures. They explore, question, and wonder, and by doing so, learn. From the moment of birth, likely even before, humans are drawn to new things. When we are curious about something new, we want to explore it. And while exploring we discover. By turning the light switch on and off over and over again, the toddler is learning about cause and effect. By pouring water into a dozen different-shaped containers and on the floor and over clothes, the 4-year-old is learning pre-concepts of mass and volume. A child discovers the sweetness of chocolate, the bitterness of lemon, the heat of the radiator, and the cold of ice"
Dr. Perry then goes on the describe how a child gets pleasure in his discoveries, which then lead to repetition and mastery, along with confidence in their abilities. The table below illustrates this:
Curiosity results in Exploration
Exploration results in Discovery
Discovery results in Pleasure
Pleasure results in Repetition
Repetition results in Mastery
Mastery results in New Skills
New Skills results in Confidence
Confidence results in Self esteem
Self esteem results in Sense of Security
Security results in More Exploration
He also tells us how this natural curiosity is stifled and stunted by over protective adults in a child's universe:
There are three common ways adults constrain or even crush the enthusiastic exploration of the curious child: 1) fear, 2) disapproval and 3) absence.
Fear: Fear kills curiosity. When the child's world is chaotic or when he is afraid, he will not like novelty. He will seek the familiar, staying in his comfort zone, unwilling to leave and explore new things. Children impacted by war, natural disasters, family distress, or violence all have their curiosity crushed.
Disapproval: "Don’t touch. Don’t climb. Don’t yell. Don’t take that apart. Don’t get dirty. Don’t. Don’t. Don’t." Children sense and respond to our fears, biases, and attitudes. If we convey a sense of disgust at the mud on their shoes and the slime on their hands, their discovery of tadpoles will be diminished.
Absence: The presence of a caring, invested adult provides two things essential for optimal exploration: 1) a sense of safety from which to set out to discover new things and 2) the capacity to share the discovery and, thereby, get the pleasure and reinforcement from that discovery
It is our responsibility and duty to ensure the children in our care are allowed to explore and discover. We should nurture their curious minds and enrich them, giving them the best chance of success and achievements.