Remember little Alice, that "curious child" whose inquisitive streak led her down a rabbit-hole, and all the way to Wonderland? Sitting by her sister on the riverbank in state of drowsy boredom, she spied the waistcoated White Rabbit, and, "burning with curiosity," followed him into a world of Adventures.
Whenever our preschoolers poke their heads into new and often less than safe places, when they pester us with questions about this and that, and ask why, why, why?, we think of curious Alice. And we think that Lewis Carroll understood something important about children's curiosity.
For Alice is not so different from any of the kids we know. When something new makes an appearance in her familiar, cozy surroundings, she must investigate immediately. She wants to know the world and understand how it works. Her time in Wonderland is spent figuring out all of the strange rules by which it is governed.
In the same paradoxical way, our preschoolers' curiosity and willingness to explore grows out of an underlying sense of security. Children who feel that they are on familiar ground will seek out novelty at every turn. It's how they learn! And curiosity-fueled learning is, to small children, nothing short of an adventure. Our world is strange indeed, as strange as Carroll's Wonderland, and kids are driven to explore it.
The tale of Alice's adventures gives us some insight into how to support children's natural curiosity. Give them a safe, predictable, some might say dull base from which to explore - and yet also offer chances for new experiences. And, like Alice's older sister, listen attentively when they are ready to tell us about their discoveries. Realize that fear and resistance are normal aspects of adventure-seeking. Even brave Alice says, at a trying moment, "I almost wish I hadn't gone down that rabbit-hole - and yet - and yet - it's rather curious, you know, this sort of life!"
Know also that curiosity looks different in kids of different temperaments. Some preschoolers will throw their whole bodies into exploring new terrain (running all the way to the other end of the park before you've blinked), while others will stare at a chipmunk and ask a dozen questions.
As parents, we have the delightful job of saving our daredevil children from their own curiosity when it takes a dangerous turn, giving that curiosity free rein when we can, and of answering the multitude of questions that curiosity inspires. Here at Being Savvy, we like to lend a hand, so in these next weeks we'll be considering some of the questions parents are supposed to know how to answer like why the sky is blue or why the wind blows. Why indeed? We're getting curious, ourselves. For the great reward of attending to our kids' explorations is that our familiar world begins to seem, as Alice would say, "curiouser and curiouser."
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