THE FIRST 1000 DAYS
Exploring – Curiosity and Learning
Curiosity helps children be more observant and to think about things and try to figure them out. When children explore their curiosity, they expand their vocabulary as they use language to describe what they're thinking, seeing, hearing, or experiencing. You can help your child's growth by supporting curiosity. Babies are born explorers, and their hands, eyes, and mouths are the indispensable tools of their trade. In the first months of life, infants will deliberately shift their gaze in order to explore their environment visually, and they'll suck at their fingers vigorously to get a taste of those interesting protrusions.
Exploratory behavior has two types: intrinsic and extrinsic exploration. For this article, one would like to focus on intrinsic exploration. One engages in this kind of behavior for its own sake, regardless of reinforcement (or reward). In children, activities like play, spontaneous activity, and imaginative behavior are thought of as intrinsic explorative behaviors. Another type of exploratory behavior was added, effective exploration. This, too, is illustrated in children by play. For the sake of contrast, in adults, it is seen as mental explorations.
Affective exploration or play as it is most often described as has a few advantages. It offers a safe space for children to try out skills without functional pressure. It also acts as a problem-solving situation, which serves as a source of joy when a solution is found.
By being curious or engaging in exploratory behavior, learning occurs. One, it reduces uncertainty. Your child may hold up an object and scrutinize it. Then, your child may attempt to determine the object's use. Your child may move and incorporate into their play; for example, if the TV remote is picked up, it could be used as a car. It is through play that your child figures out how the world works but how it could work for them.
One can even examine exploratory behavior with attachment styles in mind. A baby who is securely attached to the parent or caregiver- that is, the baby trusts the parent- feels safe to explore the world around them. On the other hand, babies who are not securely attached to their parents find it challenging to explore as they doubt the parent or caregiver's availability.
Exploring and being curious are positive factors that enhance your child's development. Such behaviors expose your child to information about the world around them and expand their knowledge. Thus, these behaviors should be encouraged.
You can provide support by creating an engaging environment. But it should not overstimulate your child. Overstimulation results in withdrawal; they may turn away and not follow their curiosity. You can offer experiences based on their current interests and stage of development. The following are a few steps you can take to encourage your child's curiosity:
· Explore your child's curiosity with them. You get to observe them experience things for the first time.
· Keeping your child in a crib or walkers for long periods prevents active exploration. At the same time, your child's safety needs to be kept in mind.
· Materials like toys, puppets engage your child's senses and encourage them to interact. Such toys provide comfort and are responsive to their expanding communication and language skills. Building blocks, play dough, and puzzles engage your child's thinking abilities and senses.
· Your child may ask many questions like "Why is the sky blue?" or they may point to something and ask, "What is that?" Answering such questions add on to your child's learning. It is okay to say that you do not know if you are unable to answer their question. Perhaps, you and your child can look for the solution together. Or, you could ask your child what they think the answer is, thereby engaging their problem-solving skills.
For the first few years of life, most of your child's time is spent growing, developing, and playing. As your child grows and develops, they acquire new skills. It also seems that it is through play that most of their learning occurs. They are also curious and, thus, want to explore the world around them. Such behaviors result in an expansion of your child's learning. It also brings them joy and excitement. Overall, your child's exploratory behaviors must be encouraged- keeping in mind their safety- to aid their development and learning.
Piccone, J. (1999). Curiosity and Exploration. Retrieved from http://www.csun.edu/~vcpsy00h/students/curious.htm
Stephens, K. (2007). Curiosity and Wonder: Cue Into Children's Inborn Motivation to Learn. Retrieved from https://www.easternflorida.edu/community-resources/child-development- centers/parent-resource-library/documents/curiosity-and-wonder.pdf
Ward, W. A. (2009). Curiosity is the Wick in the Candle of Learning. Retrieved from https://extension.psu.edu/programs/betterkidcare/parents-families/families- count/curiosity-is-the-wick-in-the-candle-of-learning