Museums are wonderful places. A day at the museum has the power to take you back in time or around the world, so help your children learn to appreciate museums and investigate the treasures that they have to offer.
Seek out Kid-Friendly Museums
When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child… —1 Corinthians 13:11
Some museums are naturally more appealing to children than others. Children’s museums are often a family’s first foray into museum-going, and for good reason. They offer a variety of hands-on activities that bring complicated concepts down to a child’s level.
Other museums are not geared primarily toward children, but offer a variety of features that appeal to young visitors. These museums often scatter hands-on features throughout their displays to keep children engaged. At other museums, audio features help children connect with the materials on display. Visitors can lift a receiver or press a button to learn more about the topic at hand.
Beginning your family’s museum experiences with visits to child-friendly facilities can help your kids learn about the purposes and structures of museums. Over time, you can wean your children off of the just-for-kids museum experience by introducing them to facilities with increasingly less hands-on exhibits and more displays that require observing without touching.
Do Your Research ahead of Time
Before you take your family to a new-to-you museum, learn as much as you can about the place. The museum’s website can be an invaluable resource, as well as online review sites and friends who have been there before.
Study up on what exhibits the museum offers and select the ones that you think will most appeal to your children. Craft a plan for your day that ensures you’ll have time to visit these displays before the museum closes (or you run out of energy). Of course, it’s important to remain flexible, but arriving as a prepared visitor makes it more likely that you’ll be able to do all the things you want to do.
Also make sure you’re armed with knowledge about the museum’s daily operations. Learn where you can park, the museum’s hours and what food services are available. Figure out if strollers will fit easily among the displays, whether the museum offers lockers and where you’ll find restroom facilities. Your entire visit will run more smoothly if mom and dad are informed ahead of time.
Help Your Kids Make Connections
Any museum can be fascinating to children if they are interested in the subject matter. Helping your kids make personal connections to the museum’s contents can make all the difference between a “boring day spent looking at old stuff” and an “amazing trip where we saw the coolest things.”
One approach you could take is to seek out a museum with exhibits that you know will appeal to your kids’ interests. If your daughter is fascinated by dinosaurs, she’ll be thrilled with a trip to a natural history museum. If she prefers dolls, find a display of antique toys. And if she’s a young meteorologist in training, a visit to the science center might be right up her alley.
However, not every museum trip has to be planned around your kids’ interests. At any museum, you can help your child form a personal connection to the exhibits. Point out a historical object he may have read about in a book or compare a scene in a piece of art to something he experiences on a daily basis.
Finally, setting forth a seek-and-find challenge can help your kids engage with a museum’s displays. Encourage your kids to find an object in the museum that starts with every letter of the alphabet or to write down five new facts as they browse the exhibits.
Although museum visits with kids in tow can often seem like a daunting challenge, it’s worth investing the time to teach children to appreciate the rich world that museums have to offer. Museums help kids connect with the past, appreciate their present world and envision remarkable possibilities for the future.