I love going to museums, it is one of my favorite past times. I consider myself very fortunate to live near and be a member of my local and child-friendly museum. Museums are wonderful places for children to learn about art and history; some offer fun and educational activities for the whole family.
Before taking your child to a museum, let him know what to expect, and then explain that there are certain rules that must be followed when visiting the museum. For instance, explain the “no touching” rule that applies in some parts of the museum. If your child asks why he cannot touch things, explain that touching can damage some of the items or that some are very old.
Help your child learn to enjoy museums:
*Go early in the morning when other children will be in the museum.
*If the museum has a children’s section, make sure you spend time there.
*Take your child to the area of his interest first, but do not shy away from the great master paintings. Viewing a one of Norman Rockwell’s painting can open a conversation about family. Take advantage of whatever your museum has to offer.
*Do not rush your child; allow him to enjoy the museum at his own pace. Answer questions as best you can; reading posted information and brochures will help you explain to your child what he or she is looking at.
*Tune in to what excites your child and him them discover things about the objects they are of interest to him.
*Do not try to make a day of it. Leave the museum when your youngster attention starts to waiver. Ask what he enjoyed most.
*Stop by the gift shop and buy museum post cards, look for those that have a photo of what you have seen that day.
*When you return home, ask your child to draw a picture showing his day at the museum. Perhaps he liked the dinosaurs best or the knight in his shiny suit of armor. Writing a story to go along with the picture is a good idea. Ask your child to make a list of the things he saw while visiting the museum. Talk about it.
*You can also allow your child to make a personal museum at home if he has a collection of cars or other items. If there is space in his room buy a small inexpensive book case for the collection, or choose special a space in some other room for him to show his collection. Buy 3 x 5 note cards and let the child describe the item, etc. Place the card near the item for everyone to see.
Is your 5 year old too young to attend the symphony? Not necessarily. A definite "not to young" if the orchestra is playing Peter and the Wolf or something similar. Also, children love Joseph Haydn's symphonies. Years ago, I saw Bobby McFerrin (Don't Worry Be Happy) when he was a guest conductor for the symphony in my town. McFerrin was amazing and the children in the audience loved him, he played to them and their faces showed their approval of him.
The site, Are We There Yet”, www.fieldtrip.com/index.html, is a fine search site for those who live in the areas of Connecticut, Delaware, Maryland, New York, Pennsylvania and New Jersey. You can search the Internet for similar sites to for your state or country.
If you cannot visit a museum, a virtual visit will do nicely. It is easy to find hundred's of museums on the Internet for your child, just searching for a particular museum can be exciting. However, a trip to a museum will open a new and diverse world for the child. Simply type the word "museum" to start your search, if you want to visit a museum in Italy type "museums in Italy."