When I was a teenager, I used to babysit a 2 year old who absolutely loved red vehicles. Wherever he went, he would point excitedly at any red bus, motorcycle or car. Toy planes and trucks had to be red. Every coloring sheet was a vehicle and - you guessed it - only one pen would make it out of the pot. He knew every single fact about fire trucks, and couldn't be beaten in a quiz on London buses. At that age, I didn't know much about how to raise smart kids - I mostly thought of this boy's obsession as an elaborate version of the Yellow Car Game.
Recently, I learned that about one in three young kids will develop a similar "intense interest" at some point in their childhood. The number one obsession among children who took part in the study? Cars. But these unique passions can take any form: parents spoke about kids who were obsessed with dinosaurs, blenders, or even the Blue Angels.
Does your toddler stop dead in his tracks every time he sees a digger on the street? Right about now, you might be feeling reassured that he's not alone. And there's even more good news! Fascination with a "conceptual" topic has been linked to better attention spans and information-processing skills. That's because toddlers are naturally curious, and any strong interest they have translates into about a million questions.
How To Raise Smart Kids: Nurture Their Passions
Want to make the most of your child's special interest? Here are 3 quick tips:
1. Stay positive
I recently had dinner with the parents of the boy who loved red vehicles. I found out his next obsession was minerals. He would read about rock composition in an encyclopedia and recite facts for days on end. Sound tedious to you? I'm sure it was. However, for a child to develop a passion, it's important they don't feel rejected by their parents. So, if your kiddo wants to tell you the chemical formula for quartz, try and hear them out.
2. Answer questions
Nurture your child's curiosity. Answer their 100s of questions. And if you don't always have the answer? That's fine too! In fact, it's even better. You have an opportunity to show your child how to find the answers to their own questions. Teach them they can seek knowledge in lots of different ways - whether that's reading a book or watching a video in the Curious World App, observing the world around them, or discussing possible answers with their peers.
3. Make their interest part of every learning moment
Studies show that kids who are especially curious about a topic are not only more likely to seek out information - their brains are also more prepared to learn. Next time your child asks you how many wheels a bulldozer has, why not try teaching them the basics of addition at the same time? They'll be much more likely to remember what you say. Need them to learn about words starting with a 'K' sound? 'Crane' and 'concrete mixer' are great examples!
While there is no one formula on how to raise smart kids, fuelling their passions is proven to help. Discover a world of curiosity-building fun in the Curious World app. Click here for 20% off your first year (discount applied at checkout).