“Children are not things to be molded but people to be unfolded”Jess Lair
I believe, this quote contradicts our traditional parenting style as in the past, parents were a bit apprehensive about letting their kids ‘learn by exploring.’
Why do they need to brainstorm and search for an answer when we can right away give them all the answers?
Those days, when a child asked his father, “Why is there a moon?” the ‘knowledgeable’ dad started describing the entire Solar-system to him!
Instead, he could have said, “WHAT DO YOU THINK?” signaling the child to use his own mind and ideas to analyze the concept. This way, a parent could smoothly stimulate the curiosity and enhance the joy of discovering through INQUIRY approach.
“WHAT IS INQUIRY AND WHY IS IT GOOD FOR OUR CHILDREN?”
Inquiry means challenging kids with problems and questions they don’t know how to solve easily. It requires giving them independence, where they structure the ways to find solutions to those problems.
Do you still remember the time when your kids were in kindergarten? Well, do you think of the enormous number of questions your children have asked those days?
They were pretty curious, uh!
Mom, “Why Sun always rises in the morning!” and “Why is the sky so blue!”
As a parent, you must have faced thousands of “Why,” “How,” and “What” questions of kids! At that early age, children are naturally curious about their surroundings and spend much of their time finding a sense of new experiences.
“Curiosity is the fuel for inquiry, discovery, and learning.”
What do we parents do to stimulate their curiosity, helping them find meaningful connections between real-life concepts?
In the recent challenging times, the role of parents has become even more critical than before! Ever Since children are spending more time at home; parents need to find ways to keep their kids engaged by providing a holistic learning experience.
Create a culture of inquiry with these simple activities, which can be great fun as well!
1. Ask questions and let them find the answers
Parents can promote inquiry by posing questions rather than providing answers directly.
For instance, when observing honey bees in the garden, ask them questions such as “What are they doing?” “Why do they have different sizes?” and “Where do you think they live?” That way, you’re improving their observation skills and challenging them to investigate and find answers essential in boosting up INQUIRY! When they try to find answers, please encourage them to appreciate the experiences while going through their JOURNEY OF LEARNING!
Let them know, “How you travel your path is more important than reaching your final destination”- Unknown
2. Let them say “I wonder” questions aloud!
“I Wonders” are whatever the kids are wondering about!
These questions stimulate the connections that are happening in their heads as they are learning a new concept. If they’re saying these thoughts out loud, they will try to figure out the process, they will follow to find the answer.
As a parent, keep noticing what your kid is excited to know more about! Be it sports, nature, sciences, or anything else? Parents need to learn to make the best use of “I wonder” questions to identify their children’s further learning paths. For instance, if your kid keeps wondering about the solar system, find the right resources, models, and take him to a planetarium to OBSERVE and EXPLORE further.
Share and value the moments of wonderment and awe with them!
3. Spark inquiry through abstract objects
Provide small kids with materials like blocks, pots, dishes, plastic bottles, and anything else that can be used to spark their imagination and creativity. Don’t give them any instructions as to what they should do with the materials; let them create something on their own. Let them make mistakes as they shall learn lifelong lessons when they try to correct those mistakes. Encourage them to explore their creative skills to design an altogether new product from such abstract materials.
21st-century parents need to take the role of a GUIDE AT HOME who creates unique opportunities for playful investigation and stimulates curiosity in their kids.
Be a flexible parent. “The less parents try to control what kids learn, the more they gain confidence in becoming independent learners and leaders of tomorrow.”
4. Involve them in simple projects at home
How could teachers develop inquiry skills when kids are no longer allowed to work in school science labs? THIS IS THE NEW NORMAL AND WHAT IF IT CONTINUES FOR A VERY LONG TIME!
We need parents to come forward and take over the role of teachers conducting such activities at home. (In collaboration with teachers, of course!)
For example, Plan a party and involve your kid to take over the event responsibility as a business student conducting a project. Let your child feel free to ask questions about the materials needed and the quantity of food to prepare based on the guest list.
Plan up projects that are fast, simple, and safe to complete at home; such as science experiments, research projects, and making models.
Develop inquiry skills by allowing them to try hands-on activities and learn by doing’ rather than just remembering the information.
5. Kids love to work the ‘Kitchen Science labs’
I am a Chemistry teacher, but nothing enthralls me more than doing a FUN EXPERIMENT with my kids in the kitchen. I still do remember the day when my son came back from his school and was super excited to demonstrate the ‘soda can collapse’ experiment. He failed in the first and second attempts, but when I asked him to reread the experimental procedure; he figured out the error. Finally, his third trial was a successful one.
LET THEM LEARN FROM THEIR MISTAKES!
Whenever possible, involve them in kitchen projects such as baking bread or cake with an inquiry approach! Ask them to observe the reactions while baking and list all the variables. Show them how different kinds of bread could be made by changing these variables. This way, great learning can take place while they follow their interest as well.
“I hear and I forget, I see and I remember, I do and I understand”- Confucius
6. Take them for tours and field trips and be an EXPLORER parent!
Field trips provide an excellent chance to observe, understand and explore specimens and processes and make meaningful connections between the curriculum and real-life problems. Since schools have restrictions on field trips, parents can help them maximize the process of independent learning by providing numerous opportunities for excursions.
Why do we teach PARTS OF A FLOWER in the school lab when they can go to a botanical garden and explore a variety of flowers and compare and contrast their parts?
Similarly, plan a trip to a zoo, museum, caves, forests, or water bodies. Such nature trips provide excellent opportunities for scientific exploration, such as observing ecosystems, food chains, bird watching, etc. On a field trip, encourage your children to note and illustrate their ideas and discoveries in a record book.
“The best education I have ever received was through Travel”- Lisa Ling
7. The Great Idea of Genius Hour!
Genius Hour is a trend developed by Google, where employees are allowed to use 20 percent of their working time to build their “PASSION PROJECTS.” When employees started working on their passion rather than just the regular work, they had delivered remarkable outcomes!
Likewise, parents can motivate their kids to UTILIZE an HOUR every day to do something they are passionate about! Brainstorm them to identify problems around them and find solutions through their projects. Encourage them to maintain query-books about their big questions, ideas, and findings. Make sure you take an interest in sharing their ideas, and that way, you will also witness whether they are on the constructive track or not!
You never know, this leisure hour might end-up in being your child Elon Musk in the future!
WHAT DO WE EXPECT FROM 21st CENTURY PARENTS – BIG QUESTIONS?
Are you just asking your kids to follow a STRUCTURED INSTRUCTION at home where there is no room for curiosity and independent learning?
Do you even bother to talk to them about what they want to learn and then find the right learning opportunities for them?
Believe me, you don’t need to be a teacher, professor, or scientist to develop inquiry skills in your kids. Just try your best to be an INQUIRER-PARENT!
ENCOURAGE YOUR CHILD TO BE AN “INQUIRER-360”
Explore this fantastic article, “MORE FUN, BETTER LEARNING” by Thilini Malalasena, to get deeper insights and practical ideas on how we can develop a passion and curiosity within our children so that the learning becomes an enjoyable experience.