Museums can be a great day out for young children. It is an opportunity for them to make new discoveries and to get excited about dinosaurs, space travel, sea monsters, or history! Coordinating a trip to the museum with young children feels like a challenge to most parents – visits are usually few and far between. Here is some advice on how to structure a visit to a museum with your family.
Choosing a museum to visit for the first time shouldn’t be too difficult if you know what your children’s interests are. Are they excited about stories from ancient mythology? Do they love reading about adventures in the jungle? Are they currently doing a school project on the history of India? With this knowledge you can decide what type of museum to go to: natural history, aeronautical, modern history, and so on. This will make the process of “selling” the visit to your children a lot easier.
If you can link a visit with a topic your children have recently learned about in school, it will have the additional benefit of reinforcing their knowledge and placing it into context.
When To Go?
Have a look at the museum’s calendar to see if and when there will be any special kids’ activities at that time – these fun child-focussed activities are most likely to be found at a dedicated Children’s Museum. Any family-friendly event will make the contents of the museum easier for children to understand and appreciate. It will also allow the kids to learn in an interactive, fun way.
Going during a holiday or on the weekend might be the most convenient time for you, but bear in mind that’s when the museum will be busiest. If you visit during a quiet time – early in the day, in the middle of the week, or during the school term – your family is going to get more time and space to look at each exhibit.
During The Visit
On the day of the visit itself, structure your trip to allow plenty of time to see the objects that everyone is interested in. Walking around a museum for hours at a time is going to prove tiring for everyone, so schedule in plenty of breaks.
Segment the visit into smaller chunks. You will either come to the museum with a list of objects that you want to look at, or an interest in exploring a particular period or section to see what you find.
If you want to engage your children and keep them amused, you might try giving them little tasks and challenges to complete in the museum area. Perhaps you instruct them to: “Find an object that was used for bathing in this time period,” or “Find an object that is red,” and they then report back to the parent once it has been found. This gets your children investigating the museum for themselves, examining the exhibits in a little more detail.
For children that enjoy drawing or craft activities, bring along some paper and colouring pencils for them to copy the pieces of artwork that they admire.
To encourage good behaviour, you might want to promise the kids a toy from the museum’s gift shop if they remain quiet and well behaved the for the whole visit. Buying a souvenir is a useful aid to remembering later all the interesting things your children learned while they were there.
Visiting a museum does not have to be a dull, dusty experience. Think of ways to excite your children in the different exhibits, and link these objects back to their interests or school topics.