What Makes Children Incredibly Curious?

Curious Minds - Boardman

Children tend to be “notorious” when it comes to asking questions in rapid succession. It’s a fact of life with regards to their early education. Their parents have to deal with it, including the teachers at early learning centers like KidsTownOhio.com. It’s this level of curiosity that’s likely to achieve two things: irritate an adult or make the adult work harder to answer the questions.

There is one inherently amazing thing about children and their rapid-fire questions, however. At their young age (and with limited knowledge about the world, no less), how are they able to ask which questions in the first place?

Questions, Questions, Questions

Harvard child psychologist Paul Harris claims that children ask an average of 40,000 questions between two and five years of age. It might not be a lot, but given their rather budding understanding of their environment, it’s a mouthful.

Harris also notes a change in the kind of questions asked during the four-year span. Early on, kids will ask what an object is. This eventually turns into questions asking for explanations by the time they’re 2 ½ years old. Four-year-olds tend to seek more explanations than facts. This is due to rapid brain growth during these formative years. Researchers from the University of Washington were able to see connections forming rapidly in developing brains, numbering to about a quadrillion individual synapses. That’s three times more than in an adult’s brain.

The Beginning Of Wisdom

Causality is one of the most important factors contributing to the slew of “why” and “how” questions from little ones. But then, scientists used to believe that children can’t identify cause and effect until they’re 8 years old, at most. More recent studies refuted this, revealing that children develop causality as early as 3 years old.

It’s also worth noting how children react to the explanations they get. Researchers from the University of Michigan analyzed transcripts of daily conversations between parents, visitors, friends, and six children aged 2 to 4 years. The results show that children are more than twice as likely to ask the same question if the answer isn’t explained. They are also over four times more likely to come up with follow-up questions even if they did get an explanation.

Tracing where the never-ending questions are going is easy—children want to get to the bottom of things. If they continue to ask, it means they aren’t satisfied with the explanation they got. And this is the beginning of wisdom. Kids seem to be wise enough to know that they don’t know things, and brave enough to ask why and how things happen. It’s an amazing sight to behold, and while it may be annoying to some adults, it means that kids genuinely seek knowledge.


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