Children’s brains develop more quickly from birth to five years old than at any other point in their lifetime. In these early years, they are constantly learning from everything that happens around them so helping them to get to know the world by offering an array of experiences will be key to developing their natural sense of curiosity and wonder.
One of the major developmental tasks for children in this period is to explore and learn to trust their surrounding environment, so it is important for parents to offer opportunities and teach their child to learn to respect themselves, other people and all living things. They will soak up knowledge from everything they touch, smell, hear and taste so immerse your child in experiences that will inspire them to be curious and globally aware so they grow up ready for the world.
Dr Anna Cohen, Sydney’s leading Clinical Child Psychologist offers parents ideas and experiences that will give your child the freedom to grow and explore the world around them.
- Visiting the local park or playground. Giving your child the chance to explore your local area where they have the freedom to discover the natural environment is a great way for them to get to know the world in their own way. It is a free and easy option particularly if you don’t have a backyard and a chance to meet others in the area that they will likely go to preschool or school with later on.
- Get lost going on walks. Let your child lead the way and go for a walk around your local area and see where you end up. Engage with neighbours on the way, particularly if they have children, as it will teach your child to interact and create connections that will give them a sense of belonging to place and community. It will also give the opportunity for you to work on road and pedestrian safety.
- Provide a variety of experiences. Cultivate your child’s curiosity by introducing new and fun experiences into their life. This could be a special visit to a museum, the zoo, the beach or a national park. Talk about what they see, hear, touch and smell, and ask open-ended questions. This will help you to gain an understanding of what your child is interested in and what they will be excited to learn about, as curiosity is a strong motivator for learning.
- Encourage ‘why’ questions. Young children will constantly ask ‘why questions’, that demonstrate their natural wonder about the world. Support your child in being interested and curious by encouraging them to ask these questions rather than just brush them off. It is important that you don’t just give them quick answers and instead let them think for themselves and give thought to an answer, for example, you could reply, ‘What do you think?’. This will help them to spark ideas for conversation and foster their ability to express themselves.
- Unstructured play. Develop independence and confidence by giving your child a chance to discover and be creative during play. Ditch the screens and encourage your child to get outside, where they are faced with a blank canvas and are forced into inventing games. If they are asking you to join in, let them lead the activity by choosing what they would like to play and how they’d like to play it. This will allow your child to gain more ideas about how to play and will mean they are able to spend more time entertaining themselves.
Having strategies and tools to nurture and teach successfully will ensure that your child is given every chance to enhance their curiosity and wonder, the natural motivators of learning. Your children will learn from every experience you offer them, so get outside, go on an adventure and you will be creating a rounded and globally aware citizen.
For more information or professional advice contact Sydney’s leading Child Clinical
Psychologist, Dr Anna Cohen at Kids & Co. – www.kidsandco.com.au
The Carousel would like to thank Dr Anna Cohen for this article. Photo by Gabby Orcutt.