August 3, 2011

Visiting a Museum with Your Kids

Visiting a museum near your home can be a fun and educational experience for your child whatever their age. There are some things that you can do to help you and your child get the most out of the experience.

Plan ahead

Find out what you can expect to see at the museum, what might interest your child and whether there are any special exhibits or activities for children. You could let older children do this research themselves and plan what they want to see. For younger children, discuss with them what they will see at the museum.

It is also helpful to find out where the toilets are and the locations of access ramps if you are taking a pusher. You might also want to plan to visit at a quiet time of day.

Let your child be the guide.

Don't try and see everything, follow the interests of your child, even if they are most interested in the security guards or the staircase (which is quite likely if they haven't been to a similar setting before). Watch your child for signs that they have had enough, depending on their age they are likely to be happy for around 30 to 90 minutes.

Your child might also like to visit the museum cafe or gift shop (especially if going to a cafe is not something you do often). You could allow your child to buy a small token (eg. a postcard) to commemorate the visit.

Explain to your child the special rules to follow in a museum

Explain to your child that they will need to use a quiet voice, that they cannot run or climb on exhibits and they are not allowed to eat and drink in the museum. Depending on where you are going you might also need to explain what they can or can't touch. Above all, be a good example.

Plan a special activity

To enhance your visit or if you've visited the museum before, you could plan a special activity or play a game 

  • Play 'I Spy' shapes, colours or objects
  • Take a sketchbook or notebook (check rules on using pens/pencils in museum galleries)
  • Create a scavenger hunt

Follow up the visit

Two ways you might want to follow up the visit are

  • starting a collection at home
  • explore the web as many museums have online exhibitions
Start planning your visit today - it will fire your child's imagination!

This has been reposted from March 2009.


amandab said...

There is at least one whole section of the Melbourne Museum we have never seen with Miss 4, even though we have been there at least a dozen times. I know she has never seen the section relating to the human body. I have no reason for this, except that it is upstairs and bothe the other upstairs sections have ways to move up and down, so we have moved levels again before we have made it there.

I do appreciate that there are specific areas for young children these days where displays are at their level and very tactile. Both the Melbourne Museum and Scienceworks have outdoor areas for young children to play as well, so the experience for families with young children have vastly improved since we were young :)

We do really need on working on activities and follow ups though, so thank you for the reminder :)

pollyw said...

I love this part of the post:

follow the interests of your child, even if they are most interested in the security guards or the staircase

That is such a great thing to point out. Sometimes I forget to follow their lead and instead make them look at what I think they need to see.

Thanks for the reminder to honor our kids' interests!