Most preschoolers are extremely curious about everything, and desperate to learn more at every opportunity. But some are exceptions to the rule – they are passive and reluctant to make new discoveries. This could be because of a few reasons, including:
His personality: Just as there are adults with a passive nature, there are kids who have a passive character. There’s nothing wrong with them, it is just that they are not particularly interested in learning new ideas.
A fear of failure: A child who struggled to master new challenges in the past – maybe he never quite understood the technique for solving jigsaws – may develop a fear of failure, which dulls his curiosity.
A learning difficulty: Curiosity is often lacking when a child has this condition, because he quickly realises that most tasks are extremely difficult. Eventually, he will lapse into lethargy rather than summon the effort required to learn something new.
Oh, look – what’s this?
The best way to develop curiosity at this age is by providing a broad range of learning experiences.
The more games and puzzles you play with him, the more likely you’ll increase his curiosity. His interest will sharpen when he sees something that grabs his attention.
Choose activities and play materials that are pitched at his age group. Talk to your child about his interests and let that guide your choice. His teacher may have some suggestions, too.
The challenge for you is to find something that is more advanced than the level he is at right now, but not so hard that he gives up even before he starts.
This comes down to knowing him, understanding his likes and dislikes, and recognising the areas that especially attract his attention.
However, avoid the trap of turning all of this into a chore. He learns best and tries his hardest to problem-solve when he is relaxed and enjoying himself.
(Also read: 3-year-old not talking: Should you worry?)
How about doing that?
If he is on the verge of giving up, or if he has a jigsaw in front of him but lacks enough curiosity even to start putting it together, give him a helping hand. There is no harm in that at all.
Discuss the problem with him, and ask him to explain the strategies he has already used. Perhaps with your help, he can think of one, too. And if he is completely dry of ideas, you can give him some suggestions.
Kick-starting curiosity like these can be very effective. Remember that success heightens curiosity. When your child succeeds with new learning opportunities, his enthusiasm for learning intensifies.
Be proud of his learning gains, no matter how small they are, because he thrives on your praise and positive feedback.
Your delighted reaction to any curiosity he shows encourages him to continue with that activity. Make a big deal out of it when he reveals even the slightest spark of enthusiasm.
Likewise, support your growing child when he fails. Teach him that failure is an inevitable part of the learning process and that he shouldn’t give up when success is elusive.