Accommodating Curiosity

Accommodating Curiosity

I remember getting into a lot of trouble in school whenever the teacher asked me to look up a word in the dictionary.  She would get angry because it took me about three hours to do it.  The problem was that as I was looking for the word she told me to find, I would come across all these other fascinating words that I didn’t know and wanted to learn.

While this resulted in some less-than-laudatory comments on my report card, I credit it with enabling me to eventually derive a nice income as a professional writer.  And I thank my parents for their ability to see through the teacher’s frustration and their inclination to not only allow but actually encourage what I was doing.

Too often mothers and fathers become concerned when their little one is “easily distracted.”  However, what may appear to be an attention deficit at first glance is probably, upon deeper examination, merely an abundance of curiosity.  And the easiest and most effective way to further a young child’s education is to indulge rather than stifle his curiosity.

So the next time your child seems to be getting “off track” with a particular task, don’t be too quick to get annoyed.  There is a good chance he simply has discovered another track that will take him to another destination that is of at least equal and perhaps even superior value.  And instead of engaging in the unpleasant and ultimately unproductive process of trying to drag him back, consider going along with what is likely to be a considerably more delightful and beneficial ride.


Michael K. Meyerhoff, Ed.D. (a.k.a. “Dr. Mike”) is a member of the management team at Romp n’ Roll.  After receiving his bachelor’s degree in psychology from Columbia University, he earned his master’s and doctorate degrees in human development from the Harvard Graduate School of Education, where he also held a position as a researcher with the Harvard Preschool Project.  He may be contacted via e-mail at