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To raise little learners, keep them passionately curious

Teach them how to wonder, how to explore, and how to passionately pursue.

To raise little learners, keep them passionately curious

During a presentation for a parent’s group, I was once asked what preschoolers need most to prepare them academically.


I’m sure some would have loved tips on building early readers or how to get a jump start on math skills (both important, to be sure), but what I really believe young children need goes beyond even those basic skills.“Honestly,” I said, If I had to pick one thing, it would be for them to simply keep their curiosity. Everything else will follow.”

Albert Einstein’s name is synonymous with genius. The man was brilliant, but what set him apart was not just his ability to master the theories of his day, but to take them one step further. To see what had not been seen and to wonder about what could not yet be known. Einstein himself once said,“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.”

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Curiosity and creativity are often inextricably intertwined. It is the ability to ask, “Why?” and “What if?” It is the ability to think creatively beyond the bounds of what is known, and it is the driving force behind every innovation and advancement in every discipline and at each of their intersections.

It is commonly said that children are naturally curious. Sometimes, however, that fountain of curiosity becomes blocked with our focus on making sure they have the answers rather than the process of getting them. Po Bronson and Ashley Merryman cover this in The Creativity Crisis:

“Preschool children, on average, ask their parents about 100 question a day. Why, why, why — sometimes parents just wish it’d stop. Tragically, it does stop. By middle school they’ve pretty much stopped asking. It’s no coincidence that this same time is when student motivation and engagement plummet. They didn’t stop asking questions because they lost interest: it’s the other way around. They lost interest because they stopped asking questions.”

We do our children a great service by engaging them in constructing knowledge rather than passively receiving it. Nurturing curiosity and teaching with inquiry put the focus on lighting the fire, rather than just the filling of the pail as William Butler Yeates explained, and it’s that fire that drives real learning, real innovation, and real creativity.

So how can you light the fire of curiosity? Here are a few ideas:

Ask questions.

Continue to encourage children to wonder why. Model by wondering aloud yourself, and engaging children in discussions that explore new ideas even when you don’t know the answers yourself.

Ask what they think about the things they see, the stories they read, and the events that unfold around them. It is necessary to give children directions and instruction, but it is vital to engage them in discussion. (Read more about How to Talk When You Teach.)

Even seemingly trivial questions create a pattern of wonder. “How do you think those window washers will get back down?” “Why do you think the bus was late today?” “What would happen if we….”

Explore.

The first step is to wonder, but the next is to act. Explore new ideas. Whether it’s tweaking your favorite recipe or creating art from science, provide opportunities to act on natural curiosities and observe its outcome.

Exploration often begins the cycle again, creating new questions and ideas for new exploration. (See this cycle in action in the videos of TinkerLab’s DrawBot.) Expose children to new ideas and they will create new questions.

Support passions.

If your child is curious about animals, feed that passion with experiences, resources and discussions. Don’t wait for the animal science unit to come around in the school curriculum. Show that you value learning that is intrinsically motivated, not just motivated by a due date.

Allow for failure.

Curiosity is fostered when children know they are safe to make mistakes. As Thomas Edison said, “Just because something doesn’t do what you planned it to do doesn’t mean it’s useless.” And he would know. His process to invent the lightbulb led to thousands of supposed disappointments. But instead of seeing a series of individual failures, he recognized the process leading him, step by step, closer to his goal.

Teach children to analyze and learn from mistakes, not to be punished for them. Renowned physicist Dr. Michio Kaku worries that an emphasis only on facts and figures and right and wrong answers is “crushing curiosity right out of the next generation.”

Encourage open-ended play.

Play is a natural conduit for creative curiosity. Allow children time to play. Outdoor play creates a perfect format for exploring nature as well as cultivating rich imaginative play. Indoors, provide children with creative toys that can be used in a variety of ways. Constructive toys like unit blocks, Legos, and marble tracks are a great start. So are props for dramatic play and true art experiences.

Don’t underestimate the value of loose parts and “beautiful junk” as well. Sometimes a cardboard box is the best creative toy money can’t buy.

Preserving a passionate curiosity in our young learners will likely do more to promote academic accomplishments than will an active pursuit of academics in and of themselves. Teach how to wonder, how to explore, how to passionately pursue, how to learn from failure, and how to play (with people, with objects, with ideas). The rest will follow.

By its very nature, motherhood requires some lifestyle adjustments: Instead of staying up late with friends, you get up early for snuggles with your baby. Instead of spontaneous date nights with your honey, you take afternoon family strolls with your little love. Instead of running out of the house with just your keys and phone, you only leave with a fully loaded diaper bag.

For breastfeeding or pumping mamas, there is an additional layer of consideration around when, how and how much your baby will eat. Thankfully, when it comes to effective solutions for nursing or bottle-feeding your baby, Dr. Brown's puts the considerations of mamas and their babies first with products that help with every step of the process—from comfortably adjusting to nursing your newborn to introducing a bottle to efficiently pumping.

With countless hours spent breastfeeding, pumping and bottle-feeding, the editors at Motherly know the secret to success is having dependable supplies that can help you feed your baby in a way that matches lifestyle.

Here are 9 breastfeeding and pumping products to help you no matter what the day holds.

Customflow™ Double Electric Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's electric pump

For efficient, productive pumping sessions, a double electric breast pump will help you get the job done as quickly as possible. Quiet for nighttime pumping sessions and compact for bringing along to work, this double pump puts you in control with fully adjustable settings.

$159.99

Hands-Free Pumping Bra

Dr. Brown''s hands free pumping bra

Especially in the early days, feeding your baby can feel like a pretty consuming task. A hands-free pumping bra will help you reclaim some of your precious time while pumping—and all mamas will know just how valuable more time can be!

$29.99

Manual Breast Pump with SoftShape™ Silicone Shield

Dr. Brown's manual breast pump

If you live a life that sometimes takes you away from electrical outlets (that's most of us!), then you'll absolutely want a manual breast pump in your arsenal. With two pumping modes to promote efficient milk expression and a comfort-fitted shield, a manual pump is simply the most convenient pump to take along and use. Although it may not get as much glory as an electric pump, we really appreciate how quick and easy this manual pump is to use—and how liberating it is not to stress about finding a power supply.

$29.99

Nipple Shields and Sterilization Case

Dr. Brown's nipple shields

There is a bit of a learning curve to breastfeeding—for both mamas and babies. Thankfully, even if there are some physical challenges (like inverted nipples or a baby's tongue tie) or nursing doesn't click right away, silicone nipple shields can be a huge help. With a convenient carry case that can be sterilized in the microwave, you don't have to worry about germs or bacteria either. 🙌

$9.99

Silicone One-Piece Breast Pump

Dr. Brown's silicone pump

When you are feeding your baby on one breast, the other can still experience milk letdown—which means it's a golden opportunity to save some additional milk. With a silent, hands-free silicone pump, you can easily collect milk while nursing.

$14.99

Breast to Bottle Pump & Store Feeding Set

After a lifetime of nursing from the breast, introducing a bottle can be a bit of a strange experience for babies. Dr. Brown's Options+™ and slow flow bottle nipples were designed with this in mind to make the introduction to bottles smooth and pleasant for parents and babies. As a set that seamlessly works together from pumping to storing milk to bottle feeding, you don't have to stress about having everything you need to keep your baby fed and happy either.

$24.99

Washable Breast Pads

washable breast pads

Mamas' bodies are amazingly made to help breast milk flow when it's in demand—but occasionally also at other times. Especially as your supply is establishing or your breasts are fuller as the length between feeding sessions increase, it's helpful to use washable nursing pads to prevent breast milk from leaking through your bra.

$8.99

Breast Milk Storage Bags

Dr. Brown's milk storage bags

The essential for mamas who do any pumping, breast milk storage bags allow you to easily and safely seal expressed milk in the refrigerator or freezer. Dr. Brown's™ Breast Milk Storage Bags take it even further with extra thick walls that block out scents from other food items and feature an ultra secure lock to prevent leaking.

$7.99


Watch one mama's review of the new Dr. Brown's breastfeeding line here:

This article was sponsored by Dr. Brown's. Thank you for supporting the brands that support Motherly and mamas.

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