Intellectual curiosity rivals IQ as a predictor of academic success, says one study.
It’s hard to think of a better feeling than watching your child’s curious brain at work—with her gears turning away as she masters a new skill, or solves a problem or simply explores. So it’s little wonder that 97% of parents feel peak levels of confidence when we’re watching our kids explore something new, according to a new survey from Baby Einstein.
“Curiosity isn't just an enabler to a child's development and future success, it also helps parents feel reassured that they're doing a great job,” says Meryl Macune, Senior Vice President of Kids II, the company that owns and operates the Baby Einstein brand.
For the survey conducted by Wakefield Research, 94% of the 1,000 American parents said they see a direct link between fostering their young children’s curiosity today and setting them up for success tomorrow. Favorite ways to do this include reading with their children, drawing together and offering toys that “encourage discovery.”
Proof of the link between curiosity and success is all around us: Each time you get on a plane, you can think of Orville Wright, who once said, “The greatest thing in our favor was growing up in a family where there was always much encouragement to intellectual curiosity.”
Or recall Albert Einstein himself, who famously quipped, “I have no special talent. I am only passionately curious.”
The connection between a curious mind and scholastic success is also backed up by science. According to a 2011 study published in Perspectives on Psychological Science, intellectual curiosity rivals IQ as a predictor of academic success.
And a 2016 study published in the International Journal of Science Education that looked at the Fullerton Longitudinal Study found that “parental stimulation of curiosity” with their young kids—such as taking them to museums and asking frequent questions—“bore positive and significant relations to science intrinsic motivation and achievement.”
So, how can you promote curiosity with your kids?
As early childhood educator Amanda Morgan wrote for Motherly, “We do our children a great service by engaging them in constructing knowledge rather than passively receiving it.”
To do this, she suggests:
Asking questions about the world around them—even if they seem simple like, “Why do you think the bus was late today?”
Exploring new ideas—such as by asking, “What do you think will happen if we add more baking powder to this pancake batter?”
Supporting passions—by feeding your child’s curiosity in a certain subject by visiting the library for books on the topic, looking up related videos and discussing it together.
Allowing for failure—which tells our children they are safe to make mistakes and helps them look at these as learning opportunities.
Encouraging open-ended play—which lets your child’s imagination take them to the destination.
Chances are, when you let your child’s curiosity run wild, you will all have so much fun you won’t even think about how much those little minds are learning. That’s what we call a parenting win.