Importance of Encouraging Children’s Curiosity about Space
Space is for everybody. It’s not just for a few people in science or math, or for a select group of astronauts. That’s our new frontier out there, and it’s everybody’s business to know about space.
These words were said by Christa McAuliffe, an American school teacher who became part of the crew for the space shuttle Challenger. Her message is even more important, now 35 years later, as we grow in our understanding of the impact we have on our own planet and beyond. Human study of space has raised as many questions as it has provided answers; and yet there is nothing else that compares to space in terms of what inspires us to think, imagine, and explore.
It might seem intimidating to bring up discussions with your child about the solar system, galaxies, black holes, and other aspects of our vast universe. Thankfully, you don’t have to be an astronomer, aerospace engineer, or astrophysicist to encourage your child’s curiosity about space. Sharing your ideas and learning together is the best way to lend importance to how we treat our own planet as well as our place in the vast universe.
Benefits of Being Curious about Space
Most children, and adults, are naturally curious about space. Whether cloud watching on a nice day or staring at the nighttime moon and stars, there is a wonder that comes to us both organically and individually in terms of our place in the universe. For children, those thoughts and questions can be difficult to convey and express. However, there are several benefits if parents attend to and foster their child’s innate curiosity about space.
There are endless concrete benefits for children who are interested in what it means to understand and explore space. As more emphasis is placed on STEM-focused education and careers, even at an early learning level, children who are curious about space are more likely to enjoy, apply, and embrace these related subject areas: science, technology, engineering, mathematics (STEM). This can be especially impactful and influential when it comes to searching for solutions and advancements that will improve the quality of life for all living beings as well as Earth itself.
A child’s curiosity about space offers many abstract benefits that can’t necessarily be measured. It’s incredible to consider that most living beings on land have looked at the same sun, moon, and stars across all time. This is a powerful concept that connects humans to Earth, plants, animals, each other, and the universe as a whole. In addition, many cultures and societies have creation stories and mythology that were inspired by the heavens, and this can be a source of connection for children as well to their heritage. Innumerable artists, musicians, writers, and filmmakers have found space as their muse, inspiration, and canvas; and many of them report high levels of curiosity and a drive for exploration in childhood.
Encouraging Your Child’s Curiosity about Space
There are many ways to explore the concept of space with your child and all that it encompasses. In fact, your own curiosity and interest is certain to inspire theirs!
Here are just some suggestions for fun activities to encourage your child’s curiosity about space, and to enjoy some quality togetherness for making memories:
- Take a trip to the library to find books about astronomy, astronauts, constellations, solar energy, and more. There are excellent options available in children’s literature, fiction and nonfiction, that involve space, imagination, and exploration.
- Make a classic “mobile” of the solar system. Your child can color and label cut-outs of the sun and its orbiting planets while you assemble the mobile with hangers or pipe-cleaners and string. You can even find glow-in-the-dark star stickers to add a nighttime twinkle and hang it in your child’s room.
- Create an “alien” family. You and your child can brainstorm what a family might look like if each member came from a different planet or star. You can draw and color this alien family together or do it separately and then compare. Another strategy is to use magazine, catalogue, or newspaper pictures to make a collage that would represent the alien family’s home. Perhaps they travel together in a toaster and cook their food on a motorcycle. Ultimately, there is no limit to this creativity!
- Visit a planetarium with kid-friendly exhibits and shows. There may even be a telescope to look through!
- Connect with an older friend or relative who remembers the moon-landing of 1969 and listen to their “where were you” story with your child. This will not only establish a generational connection to space exploration, but it will also create a sense of how the world was united in watching that moment and what a historic achievement it was across many disciplines.
Of course, it can be tempting to rely on television shows, movies, and even video games to encourage your child’s curiosity about space. While these digital portrayals of space can be exciting and informative, the experience is predominantly a passive one. In other words, screen time doesn’t necessarily encourage or reinforce a child’s active imagination, sense of wonder, or family participation in togetherness.
At Cognisprings, we support parents and their children with thoughtfully designed and unique games, books, and puzzles to enhance learning and encourage imagination. In fact, our Race-to-Space board game is an excellent way to spark your child’s curiosity about space as well as provide screen-free opportunities for family fun and togetherness!