I'm a wife to my "Mr. Right". A momma of five. A maker of slow food and simple living. A collector of memories, a keeper of books, and a champion for books that make memories. An addict who likes my half-and-half with a splash of coffee. A fractured pot transformed by the One Who makes broken things beautiful. I heart homeschooling, brake for libraries, and am glad you're here with me on the journey! Be sure to subscribe to my monthly newsletter. Or, follow along with Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Google +, Youtube, or Pinterest.

Making the Most of Museums With Young Kids

Making the Most of Museums for Young Kids

Written by Chelsea Gonzales.

As a traveling family, my little tribe can often be found visiting a museum in one city or another. It's one of our favorite ways to expand upon our roadschooling. However, because many museums are geared for teens and adults, we have also come to realize that sometimes the way in which we visit a museum makes a huge difference in the amount of learning and enjoyment our young son gets out of the experience.

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Below is a list of my top 8 tips for visiting a museum with little kids. By following these suggestions, you can ensure the younger members of your family get just as much out of your museum visits as the adults.

Making the Most of Museums for Young Kids

Choose Carefully

For very young kids, the type of museum you choose can make all the difference in the world. This doesn’t mean you have to stick to children’s museums only, but it does pay to look into what a museum offers before you visit.

For instance, a museum that requires tons of reading and offers very little in the way of interactivity is likely to bore your little one. On the other hand, our six-year-old has tons of fun at museums that are geared toward older people, as long as the exhibits have plenty of pictures, videos, and staff to answer questions. This is especially true if the museum is focused on something he is already interested in.

We usually find this kind of information before visiting by reading reviews on Yelp and TripAdvisor.

The A to Z Guide to Homeschool Field Trips is another great resource for making not only choosing a great location but also making the most of it. 

Research Beforehand

If at all possible, before you visit, try to do a bit of reading on the focus of the museum you plan to attend. This will give your child a good foundation to build upon during the visit and will help make the information more concrete in his or her mind.

Over the summer, my family had the privilege of visiting a number of amazing “living history” museums on the east coast. A week or so before each visit, we read a Magic Treehouse book about whichever time period that particular museum focused on. When we arrived, our son could enjoy the museum so much more because he already had a general understanding of the topic or the timeline.

Making the Most of Museums for Young Kids

Discuss Connections

Reading a book or two before you go will also provide you with some talking points with which to discuss with your kids. You'll be able to make connections between the books and the museum which will make the trip more much more interesting.

Besides the connections between your trip-specific reading and the museum, also look for other connections the exhibits may have with things you’ve read about or discussed with your child in the past. Finding these connections can help your young one better understand the world and keep them interested in the information the museum offers.

Read to Non-Readers

If a younger visitor cannot read the information presented in various exhibits, read it to them! After all, staring at a bunch of old items or images without any idea what they might be or why they might be significant is no fun at all. Reading the information to your child will not only give them a better sense of the lessons the museum is trying to convey but will also help to encourage questions and open discussions.

Making the Most of Museums for Young Kids

Take Part in Activities

Many museums offer classes, shows, and activities with museum staff. These special events often show science or math in action. They allow you to jump into history and give you a place and time to ask more questions of the experts. Therefore, if you find that a museum offers these sorts of activities the day you visit, pay the extra price and take full advantage of what the establishment has to offer.

Follow Their Lead

Not every person will be interested in everything. Keep this in mind when visiting a museum with your kids and allow them to express their interests and lead the learning experience.

If your child seems bored with a particular subject, don’t dwell on it. Likewise, if a museum just isn’t sparking their interest, it’s okay to leave. On the other hand, if an exhibit or an entire museum is especially fascinating to your child, do what you can to give them plenty of time to explore. Make plans to return soon.

Making the Most of Museums for Young Kids

Change It Up

Before we began our official roadschooling adventures, we visited our local science museum over and over again. We always had fun, but it was certainly getting stale. So, we branched out. On some occasions, we drove an hour or two to a nearby town. The travel time was always worthwhile and gave us something new to look at and learn.

If you’re getting bored with the same old same old, see what else your area has to offer. You might be surprised how many unique little museums you can find within an hour’s drive.

Seek Out Discounts

Of course, visiting museums isn’t cheap when you’re paying full price. This can make it difficult to visit more than one museum in a given month. For this reason, it’s a good idea to seek out discounts.

There are several different kinds of discounts to look for. These include:
Annual memberships
Reciprocal benefits
Homeschool days
Homeschool discounts
Free days
Resident discounts
Military discounts

Doing a bit of research and finding the discounts offered by a museum you’d like to see can pay off big time. We're often able to attend for free!

Making the Most of Museums for Young Kids

I hope these tips help you and your family get the most out of your museum visits. I know they’ve helped us, and we now use these kinds of attractions as a regular part of our roadschooling experience. In fact, we will sometimes visit museums two or three times a week, and the things my son learns from these visits never cease to amaze me.

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