Encouraging the Inquiring Mind in a 4-Year-Old

Looking for ways to satisfy your inquisitive child's curiosity? This article shows you how.

By Tharani Rathnam

Encouraging the Inquiring Mind in a 4-Year-Old

Endless questions, independent decisions, marathon cartoon sessions, gadget mania – resonates with your little one? Yes, to engage a four-year old today is quite a challenge. Read this article for insights on how to encourage your child’s inquisitive mind.

It has been discovered that the first six years of a child’s life are significant for the brain to develop fully. Especially when the child turns 4, he learns to be more aware of the environment around him. He may even surprise us by labelling his emotions “happiness”, “anger” or “fearfulness”. As he becomes more and more independent, it is important for us, as parents, to pay attention to his inquisitiveness and feed his curiosity. The following are ways to encourage the inquiring mind of the child successfully:

Play: “Play is our brain’s favourite way of learning.” – Diane Ackerman, a contemporary American poet. Playing is a natural part of childhood that we sometimes overlook. Playing is a resource through which a child reveals his inner world, satisfies his needs, feels free and, sometimes, learns to cope with failures too. It is an undeniable fact that learning happens through play. Mobile apps and video games do not encourage young minds. In fact, they suppress the creative, happy minds that have an appetite for learning. Here are a few examples to encourage activity in your child:

1) Unstructured activity: Encourage your child's curiosity by allowing him to play with his friends in a park, beach or anywhere outdoors, especially in the evening sun.

2) Connect with nature: Take a toy truck and shovel to play with sand and water on the beach. Or, build a castle. This helps the child connect with his parents better and is a stress buster for the parents too. Remember to switch off your mobiles when you are all playing!

3) Initiate role-play: Imagine your child to be a shopkeeper and yourself to be the customer. It would be help if your child’s friends are involved. Harness the power of imagination to help your child learn to obey rules as well as to improve his self-confidence.

Stories: “If you want your children to be intelligent, read them fairy tales. If you want them to be more intelligent, read them more fairy tales.” – Albert Einstein. Remember our childhood when we listened to stories told by our grandparents that are etched well in our memory? Story-telling is very important to encourage curiosity in children today. When children listen to stories, it helps develop imagination, improves vocabulary, thinking, creativity, problem-solving ability and hope.

1. A bed-time story is always a good idea as long as both the child and parent are not tired.

2. Select a story book with a lot of pictures and your child’s favourite characters, and read it to your child. Do not pressurise him to sit with you for the story, but never ignore him when he wants you to read it out.

3. Narrate the story as many times as the child wishes to hear it. There may be an element in the story that provides solace to him beyond our comprehension.

4. Encourage him to tell stories and listen to him fully. This increases his self-confidence and lasts for a life-time.

Art: “Art washes away from the soul the dust of everyday life” – Pablo Picasso. Music, drawing or dance, any art form that your child is interested in, can be nurtured and developed.

1. A recent study conducted in the North-western University, Chicago concluded that music can alter the child’s brain. When he starts learning to play a musical instrument, the child’s brain hears and processes different sounds that he hasn’t heard otherwise. This aids literacy and improves academic results.

2. Learning to use colours and playing with them is another area where a child’s creativity is boundless.

3. Dance is another art form where both body and mind work synchronously. Dance improves the overall physical health of a child. This helps her focus, fosters positive attitude and increases flexibility.

Discover the activities your child is genuinely interested in and guide him accordingly.

The author specializes in interactive storytelling sessions for children.

To know more about children’s emotional well-being and developmental needs, check out the following article.