By Olaolu Fawole

“If you can light the spark of curiosity in a child, they will learn without any further assistance, very often. Children are natural learners”- Sir Ken Robinson

Elizabeth is a six year old primary one pupil. When she is at school, her mother misses her presence and when she is back from school, her mom prefers school hours are not over.

Reason for this is that Elizabeth will keep her mother’s company with series of intelligent questions and her mother would patiently give her answers to her satisfaction.

The little girl would again ask more questions from the provided answers to the extent her mother would not hesitate to stop her from asking further questions.

During outside engagements, her mother would had warned her against asking questions but Elizabeth would continue to ask questions as soon as they board a vehicle.

Elizabeth says asking questions quenches her thirst

“I like asking many questions until I am satisfied”

This act of Elizabeth is known as inquisitiveness otherwise known as intellectual curiosity.

It is the joy of every parent to have their children excel in their chosen fields and
prior to their secondary or higher education, these children exhibit many traits including inquisitiveness.

Children are born explorers and as babies, they use some innate mechanisms to make sense of the world around them. Their manner of talking and asking questions is their way of fuelling their never-ending curiosity.

According to research, children may want to establish contact with adulthood or see clues to build their own opinions on issues.

African Proverb “You do not tell a child not to touch a hot lamp, the lamp will tell him”

A chat with some children in Ibadan confirms this;
Child 1: “If I don’t know something, I like to be asking my mommy questions so that I can know it”
Child 2: “I ask questions on what I don’t understand”
Child 3: “Yes, I do ask questions from my parents and they always answer my questions”

Two mothers speak on intellectual curiosity in their children

Mother 1: “Yes, I do answer them, because they may go and ask the question from another person and they may give them wrong answers, which can mislead them”

Mother 2: “First, it seems convenient to answer questions but out of that answer, they would still ask you another question, from that answer again they will ask another question”

Experts speak on intellectual curiosity in children
An educationist, Mrs Bosede Ajanaku pointed out that parents should always encourage inquisitiveness in their children because the answers can broaden their horizon.

Speaking on the issue, a psychologist, Dr Solomon Ojo advised parents to inculcate in their children reading culture, to sharpen their curiosity and stressed the need for parents not to shun questions from their children so as not to kill their desire to seek knowledge.

Also, showing them the world, through travelling, going to camps, museums and mixing with another culture, would equally nurture and develop children’s curiosity.

Parents should as well spend more time with their children together as a family and going for a walk, cooking together and playing games together.

Another form of encouraging intellectual curiosity in children is by asking open-ended questions and use words like who, what, when, where, why and how, and ask for their thoughts first before providing answers to their questions.

Finally, let children be children, by allowing them to be curious and explore, parents and elders around teach them confidence and appreciation.
Dr Ojo added that curiosity always open doors, and will lead children to new and exciting paths full of adventure and learning.

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