5 Things You Can Do to Raise Intellectually-Curious Kids Who are Prepared to Engage with the World
1. Go to museums. Especially if you live in New York City or other major city, you need to take your kids to a museum at least four or five times a year. There's a ton for them to learn about the world around them. And try to find a specific exhibit to go to - a targeted hour or 90 minutes that gets spent on one topic; for example, an exhibit on surrealist paintings - rather than show up and wander around with no agenda.
2. Stop letting your kids watch football and other sports at the expense of reading and other activities that actually create opportunities for critical thinking. If they want to watch football on TV or go to the Knicks game, great, but they should be doing that in return for spending at least 30-90 minutes reading a pleasure book, reading the newspaper, etc - and having you in the same room, ideally reading yourself, to model and to make it more of a family event.
3. Travel. When kids travel to other countries and even to other states, they start to see that others may not do things just the way they do and may not think about things the way they do. This opens their eyes to new customs and encourages tolerance, understanding, and an appreciation of the fact that the world is a very big place. Even traveling to upstate NY from the "big city" can be an eye-opening experience.
4. Get your kids off their "devices." Laptops, iPhones, iPads, etc. can connect kids to the world, but they often do so in a way that is so isolating. Many teenagers stay in their rooms all night or much of the weekend on these devices, in theory "connecting" with friends and the world but doing so all alone. Get your kids off these devices as much as possible in exchange for a trip to a museum, out for a family meal, reading the newspaper with you, etc. If you force them to engage with real people rather than their online connections, you'll help them engage others later in life.
5. Give your kids independence and the chance to make mistakes. This should probably be its own detailed post and definitely belongs higher up on this list, but in brief: kids who can learn to chart their way around their city alone by bus, subway, and on foot, and who can participate in learning true "life skills" like balancing a checkbook, shopping for groceries, doing the laundry, and dozens of other tasks that we as adults do every day, will be better able to engage the world and thrive as they grow older. Give your kids age-appropriate opportunities to be independent, even if it means they'll get lost from time to time or mix the colors and the whites!