Enquiring Minds Want to Know

The emerging science about children’s brains and how they develop shows that an adult’s drive to succeed socially, academically and professionally has its roots in self-motivation and curiosity during childhood.

Lucky for us parents, we live on a giant, spinning laboratory/playground, planet Earth. Finding fuel for hungry minds is easy and fun.

Soaking Up Experience

Scientists call a child’s willingness to jump into new and challenging tasks ‘mastery motivation.’ Children with high levels of mastery motivation take pleasure in learning and push through tough tasks to achieve that satisfying morsel of joy that comes from a knowledge breakthrough or stimulatingly fresh experience.

A child’s brain is like a sponge. It starts soaking up information in the womb and comes out ready for more. Fostering the right kind of curiosity in our children starts at birth and involves little more than providing positive, diverse experiences. Each one is an opportunity for communication, learning, and quality time.

With summer upon us, families around the Mid-South are embarking on adventures in all corners of our vibrant home planet. From international expeditions to state park day-trips, from local museum visits to backyard gardening, we’re digging into the kinds of activities that engage children’s young minds.

Across the Map

Any time you get away from your familiar stomping grounds, you find new experiences. Visiting a new city introduces you to novel architecture, quirky accents, and unexpected flavors. Outdoor expeditions introduce children to new plants and animals, and different ways to interact with the natural world. Visiting historic sites deepens their curiosity about the people that came before us. State parks and public farms give children a glimpse of life beyond the city limits.

Breaking through the low clouds and seeing a foreign city for the first time can be a stunning experience at any age. When even the parents are dazzled, just imagine the world-expanding effects on curious children.

Your Own Back Yard

Of course, it’s not necessary to leave the country to find new experiences—they’re right around the corner. Local attractions offer all kinds of special programming and deals during the summer months; it’s an ideal time to explore science, art, nature, and more. Parks are ready for picnics and Frisbees, farmers markets are spilling over with abundance, and festivals will bring fresh experiences to familiar spaces.

Children are born curious, but their desire for new experiences must be nourished, or over time it could be lost. Luckily, it takes only a little planning to keep your children engaged in new and intellectually nourishing activities. In a city as richly colored and multi-sensory as Memphis, the flow of new experiences just might be endless.

This article was originally published by Memphis Parent.