Friday, May 25, 2012

Museums: The World Through Your Child's Eyes!

Museums can be a great opportunity for children to experience people, places, art, music, history, science, and other aspects of the world that they may not otherwise have had the chance to be exposed to; but discovering all these things in a way that will leave them excited, engaged, and eager to learn more requires some planning and expectation-management!  So if you love museums, but are apprehensive about exploring them with your kids, these few quick tips can help you keep your tour on track!

image of the Louvre courtesy of Vichaya Kiatying-Angsulee/

1. Have realistic expectations:  Your children will explore a museum differently than you; don't expect to spend a great amount of time at each exhibit, rather let your children gravitate toward the exhibits which best capture their fancy!

2. Plan and prepare:  Be sure children are well-rested for the adventure and plan your visit around mealtimes (though a quick snack in the museum eatery can be a fun way to break up the exploring if your budget allows!). Before you get to the museum, discuss basic museum etiquette (no touching, no running, no yelling, etc.) and share information with your children about what they will be seeing (i.e. art, music, science, history, etc.).  When you enter the museum, be sure to take a map or make a note of where the restrooms, sitting areas, and eateries are located in case you need a break!

3. Go with the flow: When you enter an exhibit, allow your child to lead the exploring and share with you what they most enjoy.  Ask them simple, age-appropriate questions about what they are seeing (i.e. What do you like best?  What do you think the artist was thinking when he/she created this?  How does it make you feel?  What do you think this was used for?  How do you think this sounds?).  Share with them what you think about the exhibits (i.e. your favorites, why, and what they say to you)!

4. Check into special features for children:  Some museums have special children's programs, hands-on exhibits, areas where kids can sit and explore, child-geared audio tours, etc. that are designed to enhance the experience for families (but don't be afraid to trust your own judgement to decide whether the resource being offered is something you think would be helpful, or just something that would distract them and detract from the experience of interacting with the exhibits, which is why you are there after all!).

Happy and safe exploring!
-Destination Mom

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