As educators, we are always in search of new ways to support children in their development of foundational academic skills. In an attempt to help young learners prepare for kindergarten, we often spend a lot of time emphasizing early reading, writing, and mathematics skills in our curriculum.
But what if there are other early skills that have an even greater impact on kindergarten-readiness and future academic performance? While academic skill-building is important, research indicates that curiosity might actually be one of the most critical components of later academic success.
A study conducted by researchers at the University of Michigan found that curiosity in young children is associated with more robust word acquisition, enhanced learning and exploration, and higher academic achievement.
Researchers tracked 6,200 children participating in the federal Early Childhood Longitudinal Study and tested their early math and literacy skills, along with other traits, such as invention, imagination, attention to new tasks, and eagerness to learn new skills. The results showed that curiosity, specifically “eagerness to learn new things,” was a strong predictor of reading and math achievement in kindergarten.
These findings are an important reminder for early learning professionals as we seek to create enriching and engaging learning environments. When our programs incorporate open-ended activities, artistic projects, conversation, and dramatic play – we are inspiring young children to be curious while they learn!