This is a four-year-old’s explanation of why you hear thunder only after you’ve seen lightning:
“You can listen to thunder after lightning and tell how close you came to getting hit. If you don't hear it: you got hit. So, never mind.”
It’s cute, of course; but notice how much thought this little child has given to the matter. Whether your child is a preteen or a toddler, she has a natural tendency to seek out reasons for the various mysteries of life that she comes across. Your little one’s scientific temperament is directly related to the environment she is in and the company she keeps. Therefore, your parenting style has a lot to offer to her growing curiosity. The mere study of science alone will not do. In fact, she needs to adopt a state of mind that makes intelligent enquiries and plumps for scientific explanations.
In a world full of misleading ‘old media wives’ tales’, a scientific rationale is of the utmost importance. Here are some ideas to help you nurture in her an evidence-based curiosity of the phenomena around her.
A pro-science home will encourage your child to make the most of his enquiring mind.
- Encourage him to ask questions.
- Allow him to seek out answers on his own.
- Guide and direct him to reliable sources of reference like a dictionary or encyclopaedia.
- Let TV time be more for scientific programmes than for entertainment.
Teach your child critical thinking skills to better her problem-solving skills and IQ.
- She needs to use her reasoning and ask questions like, ‘Why is this happening?’ or ‘Is this the right way to respond?’ or ‘Who said this? Can I trust this instruction?’.
- Do not hinder her willingness to test so-called established ideas.
- Never halt her evaluation processes by saying: ‘Because I said so’. Instead encourage her to ask: ‘How do I know if this is true?’ or ‘How can I be sure?’.
- Teach her the logical sequence of science: General principles can create specific instances and, therefore, specific instances represent general principles.
- Point out exceptions to established norms and encourage her to marvel at some things which are still mysteries.
Steer your hero away from the customary satisfactions of finding answers on the Internet.
- Support his experiments to find the answers to questions like: ‘How does water move around in a plant?’ and ‘What objects float and what sink in water?’
- Coax him to write out his reasoning and read it to the family.
- Cheer him on as he creates models or diagrams to explain what he’s discovered.
- Give him time and permit the mess for a ‘show and tell’ of what he’s gathered.
It’s not only learning, your child needs to study.
- Avoid using chapter questions when it comes to academics. Pick up her books once every few days and ask her something that doesn’t have a direct answer in the book.
- Make some learning application-based. The rising of yeast, the metamorphosis of a caterpillar and the sprouting of saplings are some examples of application-based learning that she will enjoy.
- We live in times when there is a surfeit of knowledge in the form of reading material. Advise extra reading to improve her analysis of information.
Employ games and electronic devices to usher the fun element into his scientific thinking.
- Chess is an excellent game to help your budding genius develop his logical sequencing and strategic skills.
- Reading comprehension exercises flood the Internet with various levels of tasks to nurture his scientific temper.
- Riddles and brain teasers are all-time favourites that are now accessible through mobile apps too. Introduce him to these and he will cling on to them forever!
Your child will use her knowledge with ease as you explore things together. Have discussions with her. Focal points for discussion must include important elements specific to creating a scientific bent of mind.
- The logic and rationality behind events, happenings and processes will make her eyes pop with wonder. Watch as she enjoys the journey of arriving at her understanding.
- Egg her on to find scientific evidence for results and conclusions that she comes to. Let her not simply take someone’s word for it.
- Motivate her to obliterate traditional, customary and unfounded biases. Teach her to argue and debate these.
You will need to be patient as developing a scientific temper is not instant. Nevertheless, in a world that is replete with misinformation, uncertainty and flux, your precious child needs to be unreservedly reliant on his scientific temperament. This is a strength that will equip him to be an invaluable citizen of the world regardless of the career path he chooses to embark on.
Hannah S Mathew is a freelance teacher, trainer and certified diagnostic counsellor.
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