Not everyone enjoys a museum. They have a bit of a frumpy reputation for being full of boring old stuff no one’s interested in any more. And when there are more appealing trips out for kids like play centres, why would you head to a museum?
However, it is perhaps time to take another look. Many of them have outgrown that image and have engaging hands-on aspects to the displays that are attractive to kids. And it would be a shame to lose them for museums provide a worthwhile addition to our culture and learning experiences. Even better; unlike play centres, many are free.
Smaller specialist museums can be as good an experience as something as grand as the big museums in London which can feel overwhelming. Those like the Booth museum of stuffed animals in Brighton for example. Or the National Media Museum in Bradford, or Woolsthorpe Manor; a museum in Isaac Newton’s home in Grantham.
Even small towns often have a little museum relating to their local history which can sometimes appeal to youngsters because they’re intimate and real. Like a Life Boat museum, for example, or Fishing museum if you’re next to the coast, an Aircraft museum if you have a historical airfield, or a Farm museum depending on your locality. Check your town’s particular history; your museum may be tucked away. But these smaller museums are great for children to see how their local history influenced their lives today.
Whichever museums you use, these tips may help you get the best out of them:
- If you’re visiting bigger museums keep focussed on one part per trip.
- Allow the children to take the lead. They’re more likely to look and learn that way than if they’re dragged round your choices having every label read out to them.
- Like with all aspects of learning – you can’t force it on learners. Lead them to it and allow them to get from it what they will; a child that is inspired by what he’s experiencing retains things far better than those who are force fed!
- If the museums are free and local dip in and out of them for short, sweet visits rather than a long session that bores the kids to tears. Also, have a look at what else there is to do nearby to let off steam (park or playground perhaps).
- Accept that you may not get everything out of a visit in one go and be prepared to go back. Second, third, or regular re-visits are just as valuable as the kids know what to expect and what there is to enjoy.
Visiting museums is a way of taking learning out into real and vibrant places and is an experience that is more likely to be remembered. Our use of them will also keep them going.