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Keeping Curiosity Alive

Keeping Curiosity Alive

“Do worms sing?” four-year-old Heidi asked. Her face bent close over a green one writhing in the palm of her hand. She pushed it gently with a dirt-covered finger.

The thought of a worm belting out a tune made me laugh.

“Hmmm,” I answered, “that’s a great question. I guess I really don’t know.”

Nor had I ever considered it.

She raised her blue eyes to mine, blonde wisps of hair danced in the breeze, and her puckered brows relaxed.

Before long we’d created a great imaginary chorus of worm singers with little round mouths, and a conductor as well.

Curiosity is a part of childhood learning which both amuses and frustrates moms and dads. I remember as a young mother, “why” tagged my footsteps around the kitchen until I felt tattered by its constant repetition. Answering questions never before conceived was daunting.

A fine line exists between directing inquisitiveness and squelching it. How can natural interest be nurtured into a quest for learning? Here are some starters you may find helpful to keep curiosity alive and growing.

Ask questions of questions. Encourage your child to think, imagine, express, and understand how to find answers with follow up inquiries such as:

  • “I wonder why…”
  • “What do you think?”
  • “Where could we find the answer to that?”
  • “What might you think if that happened?”
  • “How would you feel?”
  • “What makes you ask that?”
  • “Why do you want to know?”

Look for intent. Eve taught us quickly in the Bible that curiosity could get us into trouble. Children need to be aware of it as well. They also must be taught when questions are appropriate and how to ask properly. Timing and attitude should be guided. Disrespect or belligerence not allowed.

Children’s innocent questions like, “Where do babies come from?” can bring on sweaty palms and prompt us to look for the exit. However, if we understand the question of the heart, much of our angst may dissipate. “The hospital” may be all the detail needed.

Children want to feel that their questions are important. Take the time to consider more than just the words, but also the sentiment prompting them. When you need to postpone a response, reward patience. Remember to return to requests at the right time and place. By doing so, groundwork is built for young adult “why’s” to come later.

Find answers together. My mom modeled this beautifully. When it was time for me to start first grade she told me to remember what the teacher talked about so that when I got home we could research it together. I eagerly listened so I could retell and spend uninterrupted one on one time with her. She was never too old to be interested in whatever made me curious.

One of our grandsons is the king of trivia. He drops tidbits of random knowledge when I am least expecting it. Zak sidles up to me and tells me in such a quiet voice that I have to bend over to listen, something I’d never before contemplated about the Assassin Bug held in a glass jar. I may forget what the insect eats, but Zak will remember whether or not Grandma listens to what interests him.

Bring Scripture into the realm of the curious. We can never exhaust the Word of God. There is always more to learn from it, and if read properly, it employs all of our senses. When our children were little, we read through the Bible in small segments, trying to encourage them to taste, smell, hear and wonder at it.

Psalm 1 begins, “Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor stands in the path of sinners, nor sits in the seat of the scornful.” (NKJV) I can still see our four children lined up mimicking walking, standing and sitting with these words.

Few people ask good journalistic questions when reading Scripture. Encourage what, when, where, why and how examinations as you read. If fear strikes at your heart in the process, all the more reason to do some deep digging, because a firm foundation of trusting God is built by grasping His Word well, and through it, knowing Him.

Acts 17:11 recounts the Bereans as more noble because they searched the Scriptures to see if what Paul and Silas taught was right. Inquisitive minds drew them to truth.

Life without a quest for the unknown would be bland, and the curiosity of a child is something to be treasured. Pick up the challenge. Reinstall your why.

By: Sylvia Schroeder serves as Women’s Care Coordinator at Avant Ministries. She and her husband raised four children in Italy and Germany, where they were missionaries with Avant. Their children are all married and they have twelve grandchildren. Visit her blog, When the House is Quiet, at sylviaschroeder.com.

Join us at www.just18summers.com for our parenting blog each Monday-Friday and for info about the Just 18 Summers novel.

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