Menu

Education Today Logo


newsletter

Education Today Cover Browse Issue

Why “Why?” is a good thing

News Image

Curiosity may not have worked out well for the cat but it's a good thing when teaching children how to read and do maths.

And for children from poorer communities, curiosity is even more important for higher academic achievement than for children from more well-off backgrounds, and may serve as a potential target of intervention to close the poverty associated achievement gap.

According to the University of Michigan, children who have developed a wide range of socio-emotional skills are generally more successful when they start school. These skills include invention, imagination, persistence, attentiveness to tasks, as well as the ability to form relationships and manage feelings.

Most current early learning interventions focus on improving a child's effortful control which includes their ability to concentrate or control impulses. Very few interventions aim to cultivate curiosity in young children.

Data for the current study were drawn from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, Birth Cohort. This nationally representative population-based study sponsored by the US Department of Education has followed thousands of children since their birth in 2001. Their parents were interviewed during home visits and the children were assessed when they were nine months and two years old, and again when they entered preschool and kindergarten. In 2006 and 2007, the reading and math skills and behavior of 6200 of these children then in kindergarten were measured.

Curiosity was found to be as important as effortful control in promoting reading and math academic achievement at kindergarten age. This was especially true for children who showed an eagerness to learn new things. The relationship between a child's curiosity and academic achievement was not related to a child's gender or levels of effortful control.

While higher curiosity is associated with higher academic achievement in all children, the association of curiosity with academic achievement is greater in children with low socioeconomic status.

Children growing up in well off households tend to have greater access to resources which encourage reading and maths learning whereas those from poorer communities did not.

The results suggest that the promotion of curiosity may be a valuable intervention target to foster early academic achievement, with particular advantage for children in poverty.


14 Nov 2018 | National
Nowhere to run for cheaters News Image

While it’s prevalent at universities, cheaters’ days might be numbered as markers have shown themselves to be adept at indentifying which assignments are not the work of the student and the ability improves with training. Read More

14 Nov 2018 | NSW
Surf Lifesavers head Bush News Image

Over 6000 youngsters will get a taste of the beach when the 25th annual Beach to Bush program rolls into towns including Tamworth, Lismore, West Wyalong, Young, Moree, Gunnedah, Narrabri and Canberra. Read More

13 Nov 2018 | National
Catholic School Principals plan for future News Image

As the current crop of Catholic School Principals retires there’s concern that no one is stepping up to the plate, the Catholic Schools’ Middle Leadership Program addresses the development of new leaders. Read More

13 Nov 2018
Students asked which anti-smoking ads work best News Image

Quit Victoria’s annual Critics’ Choice initiative invites students to appraise anti-smoking ads and high school students are being called upon to get involved.
Read More

13 Nov 2018 | National
Program sees autistic toddlers thrive in mainstream kinder News Image

Toddlers with autism can thrive in normal kindergarten environments if provided with the correct scaffolding and La Trobe University’s Group-Early Start Denver Model (G-ESDM) looks to be one intervention that works well. Read More