Curiousity in kids’ brains and how it helps them learn even boring things

Thankfully kids are innately curious. When we’re interested in something we find it easier to learn about them. But, there are two…

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Thankfully kids are innately curious. When we’re interested in something we find it easier to learn about them. But, there are two challenges as our children grow up.

First, the education system, the very thing that’s supposed to equip us for life, just sucks curiosity out of us, as people like Ken Robinson have eloquently said.

Second, we have to learn lots of things, some of which just won’t be interesting to us. But they are still very important to learn.

If we understand how curiosity works, we can change the way we educate our children to help them learn the things they find boring better. Few studies have been done on curiosity, but one recent study, published in the Neuron journal, revealed one key finding. Invaluable to us parents, because our job is to help our children grow into amazing adults.

Curiosity increases memory, use it to help them remember other things too

The study used an MRI machine and a series of trivia questions to understand what was happening in the brain when interested was piqued.

When the participants’ curiosity was piqued, the parts of their brains that regulate pleasure and reward lit up. Curious minds also showed increased activity in the hippocampus, which is involved in the creation of memories.

There’s this basic circuit in the brain that energizes people to go out and get things that are intrinsically rewarding. This circuit lights up when we get money, or candy. It also lights up when we’re curious.

When we find something our children are curious about, we can help them explore that topic from every possible angle. If your little one is fascinated by gorillas, which weight about 160kg, how many of them is that? Then you’ve gone from gorilla’s to mathematics.

Why they’re curious in the first place is still a mystery though. But as my mum says, everything is interesting if you look hard enough.

I’m exploring what it means to be a dad so I can be the best dad I can be. Get weekly insights from my work to help you be a better dad by email.

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