New research finds curious kids achieve greater success in school, regardless of their socioeconomic status. Plenty of parents will tell you that one of the most annoying questions to come out of their kids’ mouths is “Why?”
There’s a stage nearly every child goes through, when it becomes their response to almost everything — even your answer to the last time they asked the question.
It can be exhausting, particularly when you don’t actually know the answer to whatever it is they’re currently questioning. Why is the sky blue? Does anyone actually know?
But take heart, parents. All those “whys” could pay off in a big way for your little one down the line.
Pediatric Research recently published a study linking curiosity to academic achievement. The study involved direct assessments given to 6,200 kindergarten students, as well as parent-reported behavioral questionnaires. The results yielded a correlation between curiosity and greater academic achievement in reading and math.
The study’s findings may help ease the minds of many modern parents, particularly in light of a 2016 poll that found over 50 percent of parents with kids under the age of 18 placed their children’s academic performance as being among their top three parenting concerns.
But if curiosity is the key to academic success, can curiosity be fostered, or is it an innate trait?
Lead researcher Dr. Prachi Shah believes it’s a little bit of both. She explains, “I think we can align experiences with a child’s innate passions, and in that way, we can cultivate their interests and their engagement in topics that can help foster early learning.”
The new study gives her hope that cultivating curiosity can help improve academic performance throughout their lives.
Good teachers find ways to connect what the students are learning to things that matter to them. An easy way to do this is to give them part of the whole picture, and then provide ways for students to put the pieces together themselves. Even though it can be tricky, students feel a greater sense of accomplishment when they figure stuff out on their own.
Dr. Shah thinks a lot of it also has to do with teaching to a child’s specific interests. “Kids can be curious about one topic, but not another,” she explains. “For both parents and educators, it’s really about discovering what a child’s individual passions are. What’s driving their interest? If a child feels they can play an active part in making a decision about what they are pursuing, that helps them to be more invested in what they’re learning.”