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My 5 year old daughter is completely uncurious and this is rather surprising to me. I have grown up around many children in India and observed many kids in the UK too. With that as the vantage point, my daughter seems to have utterly no interest in anything but pretend play and that too with very empty dialogues. She can't seem to follow story plots that extend past 5 pages in a kid's story book. She does passably well with reading, writing and math at school. My wife and I have advanced degrees and have always read to her and encouraged our daughter to read and ask questions but I would like to get some advice/suggestions on how to get her to be more curious.

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    Do 5-year-olds normally learn to read, write, and do math in the UK / India? In Austria that would be on the early side (normally you start reading and writing in elementary school, age 6 - and I think even basic math comes a little bit later). Maybe she already gets sufficiently stimulated by learning that stuff at age 5? – xLeitix Aug 17 at 12:58
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    @xLeitix yes, in the UK children start “Reception” at age 4/5 and will generally start being taught to write their name etc. – Tim Aug 17 at 16:51
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    She is 5 years old. – copper.hat Aug 19 at 15:39
  • Many kids this age have an incredibly rich internal life that you may literally never learn about. You'll probably meet more of them as she goes through school. Consider that she might think you're the one who's completely uncurious! – Tanaya Aug 19 at 16:43
  • This is your first child right? Kids that age find comfort in familiar things. They like to hear the same story over and over and tend to be a little afraid of new things. Keep in mind that thousands of every day things and events you take for granted are completely new to her at that age, and that can get mentally exhausting. It sounds like your child is a normal 5 year old. If you are obsessing over milestones from child development books and expecting her to be ahead in all of them at every stage in her life, you are setting your family up for a lot of stress and disappointment. – Mzzl Aug 19 at 17:02
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In my experience, kids are curious when they have interest in something. She may just not yet have found anything she has particular interest in. Often you'll be surprised at what they do eventually find interest in; my younger child showed a ton of interest in learning to play the violin, all of a sudden, for example earlier this year.

Give her lots of experiences, and don't assume she'll be interested in what interests you. I'm a big fan of the Montessori approach, and the driving philosophy there is that it is "child led" - see where the child wants to go, and help her along that path. If she doesn't show interest in the books you've read, maybe she needs a different book, or maybe she doesn't care for reading stories others have created but wants to create her own instead.

Pretend play is great, and don't worry that the dialogue is empty; it's her way of exploring. If that's what she's interested in, help her in that direction! Get her clothes to dress up in, things to help make a more interesting scene. Perhaps consider reading books that involve pretend play themselves! Calvin and Hobbes, even, might be up her alley.

I'd also note that it's not terribly surprising she doesn't follow plot well; five-year-olds don't usually. Adapt your reading sessions for her attention span, aiming to slowly build it up. Make sure you're reading books she's interested in. Focus more on "character" than "plot" books at this age - that's mostly what she's probably interested in. Later on, plot becomes more important (to some, anyway).

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    I just hope OP is not already overwhelming her with new experiences. – Michael Aug 17 at 6:59
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    One of the funniest moments ever was when we took my wife's brother's kids to a Rennaisance fair years ago, when they were I believe 5 and 6. (In that ballpark, anyway). Things they were completely uninterested by: multiple people on stilts doing tricks; a person juggling flaming torches and then eating them. Things they were monumentally curious about: the truck in the parking lot dumping water on the ground so it didn't get too dust; just a normal sandbox. – neminem Aug 17 at 16:44
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    @neminem same with me and my brothers around that age. Our grandparents took us for a great tour over a weekend: a zoo, amusement fair, that little train for kids, you name it. On Sunday evening, on returning us to our parents, grandma asked us what did we enjoy seeing over the weekend. All three of us replied in unison: street spraying truck! So perhaps the answer to the OP's question is simple: a street spraying truck. – Pavel Aug 18 at 7:12
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    @neminem That sounds like me now, and I'm 39. – Jason C Aug 19 at 7:49
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In addition to books and academics, engage your child in nature exploration. Take her out on walks in the woods, boating or canoeing on lakes, camping, etc. The natural world has many more features than human-made surroundings in residential houses or schools. When allowed to explore nature, children are more likely to engage with the outside world and naturally become more curious.

Nature exposure has plenty of other positive side effects, see, for example, Louv (2008) and references therein, as well as more recent research, such as Stevenson(2019) and Chawla (2015).

REFERENCES:

Richard Louv. Last Child In The Woods. Chapel Hill, NC: Algonquin Books; 2008. https://www.amazon.com/Last-Child-Woods-Children-Nature-Deficit/dp/156512605X

Richard Louv website: http://richardlouv.com/

Richard Louv: Nature Activities for Kids and Families: http://richardlouv.com/books/last-child/resource-guide/

Stevenson MP, Dewhurst R, Schilhab T and Bentsen P (2019) Cognitive Restoration in Children Following Exposure to Nature: Evidence From the Attention Network Task and Mobile Eye Tracking. Front. Psychol. 10:42. doi: 10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00042 : https://www.frontiersin.org/articles/10.3389/fpsyg.2019.00042/full

Chawla, L. (2015). Benefits of Nature Contact for Children. Journal of Planning Literature, 30(4), 433–452. https://doi.org/10.1177/0885412215595441 : https://journals.sagepub.com/doi/abs/10.1177/0885412215595441

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    That’s why we had ours in forest kindergarten. – Stephie Aug 16 at 20:54
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    @Stephie not to be confused with tree nursery – rexkogitans Aug 17 at 11:21
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    As a child, I couldn't get enough outside time. Exploring the hills and later, the mountains, near our home was my favorite pastime. The curiosity I had for nature as a child shifted in some degree to computers and software during adolescence. Now, I work in an office managing a software team, which I also enjoy. But I still get outside when I can. – DSway Aug 18 at 21:34
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Great answers have been given already. One thing you should also consider is that not all children learn the same way, so curiosity is not manifest the same way in all children. It sounds like you are expecting your daughter to be a reading/writing learner. But there are four general types - Visual, Auditory, Reading/Writing, and Kinesthetic.

My son is a kinesthetic learner, so physical experiences and interaction were more important than purely intellectual exercises. Over time, book learning became more natural for him. By age 10, he was at the top of his class in math and did exceptionally well in advanced calculus and physics several years later. As a teenager, his reading and language skills began to catch up to his math and physics prowess, and he did well in all of his classes. But as a young child, reading a full book with him was tedious.

Instead of reading stories, we would have 'adventures' which allowed for movement and interaction with physical objects. For example, we made hats out of paper, pretended our couch was a ship and sailed across the ocean. I gave him a bucket lid that he used to steer our vessel and told him he was the captain. He needed me to direct the story to some degree by spotting sea monsters or an approaching storm and then I would ask him what we should do. Eventually, we rescued some pilgrims stranded on an island and he was the hero. Instead of losing interest as he did when reading books, he remained engaged and was focused on reaching our destination, overcoming obstacles and solving problems.

My daughter, on the other hand, has always been an auditory learner. She loves music and could listen and repeat 'adult' sentences as a toddler. She could repeat phrases with 'grown up' pronunciation and intonation based on context, even before she fully comprehended the meaning of the phrases. She loved hearing stories. She could appreciate adventures as well, but only if they were accompanied by verbose narration - her own - "No dad, I will tell the story." Her learning style led to an interest in language and music. She has enjoyed participating in choirs and studying French, ASL, and Scots (just for fun).

Your daughter will find her own interests and while they may change as she gets older, helping her learn how to learn can be a foundation for success in whatever she decides to pursue. Understanding her learning style can help you provide the right tools and opportunities that will stimulate her curiosity. For my children, discovering how they learn was key to cultivating their desire to learn. I think it also made them feel understood, so they felt more comfortable expressing themselves and weren't afraid to be themselves.

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Perhaps consider that her mind may be adapted to a particular type of thought: Auditive/sound/words OR visual/colors/shaped OR social/faces/emotions OR tactile/crafting... check what her mental map responds to.

At 5 its perfectly normal to not be intellectual and yo show disinterest in excessive attention and curiosity-coaxing, she may just find a path in gardening or art or some other inspiration later on, that would be perfectly ok. My parents are both intellectual and my sisters are much less than them and were very slow at 5yo.

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