A new research article by Prachi Shah and colleagues at the University of Michigan shows that children who are curious have higher academic achievement than those who aren’t. In fact, they see cultivating curiosity in the classroom—promoting the joy of discovery and motivating students to find out answers to life’s questions—as an untapped strategy for early academic success.
Researchers used data from the Early Childhood Longitudinal Study, which has tracked a national representation of thousands of children since 2001. Children were followed via parent interviews and assessing the children at ages 9 months, 2 years, starting pre-K and K, and then looking at the reading, math, and behavioral skills of 6,200 of these children in 2006 and 2007 when they were in kindergarten.
Results showed that:
- After controlling for other factors that might influence academic achievement, eagerness to learn new things had a small but positive influence on kindergartners’ reading (ES=+0.11) and math (+0.12).
- This was even more so for children from low SES backgrounds (ES=+0.18 in reading, +0.20 in math).
The authors conclude that while effortful control has been emphasized as an important predictor for early achievement, curiosity is also an important, yet under-recognized contributor.
Source: Shah, P. E., Weeks, H. M., Richards, B., & Kaciroti, N. (2018). Early childhood curiosity and kindergarten reading and math academic achievement. Pediatric Research, Advanced online publication. https://doi.org/10.1038/s41390-018-0039-3