by Kyndra Steinmann
Some days, the questions and speculations start before my first cup of tea!
Buggle seems to set himself engineering problems in his sleep, and Bull is in the categorization phase. Every morning, he wants to know: “Is it morning?”; “Is it a work day?”; “Is it a school day?” The questions continue all day long.
“What’s this word?”
“How can I attach this car to these Legos?”
Often the children offer their own explanations, which vary from quite accurate to hilarious. Sometimes I give an answer and find myself explaining supply and demand (“Why don’t some people have jobs?”), the causes of war (“What’s that funny shovel?”—a neighbor’s WWI trenching shovel replica), or the proper use of antibiotics (“Why does Jack get medicine for an ear infection but I don’t get medicine for a cold?”).
Giving explanations is tiring. It’s hard to figure out how to put things that even many adults don’t understand clearly into elementary and preschooler terms without oversimplifying, and sometimes I have to fall back on, “You’ll understand more as you get older.” Some days I feel like all I do is answer questions and give explanations, but isn’t that part of the job?
After all, everything the children see is new and foreign to them, and they are doing their best to make some sense of it. Curiosity and asking questions is how they categorize and make sense of the very confusing bunch of inputs that swirls around them every waking minute! Part of my job as their mother and teacher is to help them make sense of what they see by encouraging them in their curiosity.
What?! Encourage them to ask questions?
Yes! Curiosity is an important springboard to creativity, and creativity is the primary way in which we both bear God’s image and do His work in the world. Without creativity we cannot find new approaches to old problems, and without curiosity we won’t ever realize that the things we see, hear, and do everyday might not be normal.
Often I read reports of how American children are falling behind in problem-solving and innovation and I think, “Of course they are! And the educational system is not the culprit—it’s a symptom.”
We increasingly live in a culture that does not value curiosity and, in fact, sees stopping to examine or explore as a hindrance to success. Children are expected to accept and assimilate many “facts” without being given the opportunity to discover and explore the validity of the information they are being given. Encouraging our children to ask questions, fostering curiosity, and giving them the gift of time to explore allows them to grow up to be problem solvers. Answering questions is the first step.
Kyndra Steinmann blogs at Sticks, Stones and Chicken Bones on living in a house full of young children, unending questions, and abundant grace. Follow her on Twitter, Facebook, and Pinterest, and be sure to read her post here every other Tuesday!