As the school year begins you might be wondering what you can do to help your kids succeed. As it turns out, the best thing you can do is answer the battery of “why” questions that your tots hurl at you—because curious kids do better in school.

According to a new study conducted by the University of Michigan’s C.S. Mott Children’s Hospital researchers concluded that “greater curiosity was associated with greater kindergarten reading and math academic achievement.” The study found that reading and math skills were less dependent on staying focused and putting in effort than they were on simply being curious.

The study analyzed data collected from 6,200 kids over several years from the time they were 9 months old through the end of their kindergarten year. Of course, there are many factors that go in to a student’s success in school, but ultimately what the study showed is that even kids who had a hard time sitting still and staying focused in class were able to achieve academic success, if they displayed high levels of curiosity.

“Curiosity may be an important, yet under-recognized contributor to academic achievement. Fostering curiosity may optimize academic achievement at kindergarten,” explained lead researcher Prachi Shah, M.D., a developmental and behavioral pediatrician at Mott and an assistant research scientist at U-M’s Center for Human Growth and Development.

Shah says curiosity is an important component of early learning and educators and parents should be fostering it more. How exactly to do that is something they still need to research, but in the meantime time when you see your tot’s thoughtful gears turning encourage the flow of questions by exploring together. If you don’t know the answers, head to the library where you can hit the books together.

—Shahrzad Warkentin

Featured photo: JESHOOTS via Unsplash



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