Children are natural born scientists. I know you’ve heard me say that again and again. Apologia author, Racheal Yunis, explains more about the process children go through that makes them great scientists and how parents can either foster that process or deter it.
The first thing most of us do when we are put into a new situation is to look around and assess our surroundings. We use our past experiences to compare this new situation to what we already know. Through this evaluation process, we form our view regarding our present condition. If the old and new are similar, we find that we are quite comfortable in our new setting. What we are really doing is comparing known facts to the unknown.
When there is a discrepancy between the facts we know and the actualities that we are experiencing, we can sometimes feel anxious. It takes time for us to feel comfortable, but once we are relaxed, curiosity sets in. Children usually enter a new situation clinging to the one fact that they know and trust (Mom or Dad). In a new situation, however, there is new information to learn, and eventually a child’s curiosity for knowledge will kick in. The child will leave mom’s side and take time to explore the situation through visual, auditory, and kinesthetic means. This inquisitiveness ultimately leads to lots questions.
Have you ever marveled at how passionately children ask questions, usually without waiting for the answers? As adults, it’s easy to forget how good that heartfelt curiosity feels. You can hear in a child’s voice the excitement and purpose of, “Why?” The facts that we have come to understand through the experiences of our lifetimes are still yet undiscovered to a child. By providing a safe environment for our children to explore, we are giving them the opportunity to create their personal life experiences.
These experiences have to be internalized in order for them to have meaning. It isn’t fun exploring and asking questions if someone tosses out the answers as fast as the questions are thought up. Sometimes as parents we feel that we need to answer all of the questions as soon as they are asked, but this can cause a child to become distracted, lose interest, and eventually stop asking questions altogether. In place of direct answers, we need to guide our children to their own discoveries.
It’s our duty as parents, teachers and curriculum developers to remember that observation, curiosity, and questioning are not only enjoyable, but also really important. It is curiosity that makes us look closely at something that has piqued our interest. That interest and the time spent observing something leads us to ask questions, and questions lead to learning and gathering information about our world. The key words here are our world. Life experience is personal. It cannot be taught, only learned.
“How wonderful to be wise, to analyze and interpret things”
Ecclesiastes 8:1 NLT
That’s why Apologia texts are written in a conversational tone to your children. Their purpose is to help your children interactively participate in their educations. Our texts are designed to foster a child’s natural inquisitiveness. We recognize that in order to cultivate curiosity, we have to partner with it. We help you nourish your children’s minds through hands-on activities and experiments. Through investigation, your children have the opportunity to analyze facts that they are gathering and interpreting. Eventually, children achieve the AHA! moment that happens when they can claim ownership to a discovery they have made. These personal encounters turn facts into a meaningful and natural extension of what they already know about their world. It is at this point that a child truly grows to love and understand all that creation has to offer.
Rachael Yunis and her husband Sam have homeschooled their three sons since 1998. Rachael has a Masters degree in Molecular Genetics/Developmental Biology, over ten years experience in molecular genetic research, and publication in multiple scientific journals. A second Masters degree in Biomedical Ethics led to a career as a science writer, as well as, her current position as the Science Director for Apologia. Rachael has volunteered on hospital ethics committees, worked for the American Medical Association’s Institute for Ethics, written articles for the Alzheimer’s Association, and speaks on science, ethics, and homeschooling topics. She is also a co-author of Apologia’s The Human Body, Fearfully and Wonderfully Made, 2nd Edition, which is due out this summer.