Whether you frequently visited art museums as a child or not, the thought of bringing your kids near a Picasso can be quite scary. So many people, such a big space, equipped with so many potential disastrous situations. If taking your children to a museum is not your idea of a good time, here are some tips to make the process a bit more enjoyable:
1. Visit during slower times in the day, week, or season. Slower seasons tend to be September and January for children’s museums, and avoid weekdays during the school year when large field trip groups will likely overcrowd the museum.
2. Take it in small pieces and don’t try to see everything. Most children have a hard time staying quiet for extended periods of time, and most museums can be quite large. If you plan ahead to see a limited portion of the museum you can be selective about what will likely keep your children interested and engaged.
3. Tell them what’s expected. Children tend to perform best when they know what is expected of them. Most likely, this will be their first time in a museum so they won’t know expectations unless you tell them. This is easier, of course, with older children, but important nonetheless.
4. Give them a scavenger hunt. Have your children look for certain colors, shapes, and details throughout the museum, which will encourage them to notice small details of the artwork. While they think they’re playing a game, they will be absorbing different aspects that they may have otherwise missed.
5. Talk about what they’re seeing. Allow them the freedom to express opinions about what they’re viewing. Talk about what is familiar and what elements they may not understand. Children will take in art differently than adults, and it’s important that they express those thoughts and emotions. Have them identify their favorites and describe what elements attract them the most.
6. Take advantage of educational programs. Many art museums offer kid-friendly tours designed to teach children how to view art and what it’s all about. Some even have programs that let the children try to recreate a piece of art. This allows children to personalize their experience, making it more meaningful. Check the museum website prior to your visit to find information on these types of offerings.
7. Consider taking them to a child-friendly museum as an alternative. Children’s museums allow the opportunity for kids to get down and dirty! They have messy, gooey activities that parents typically wouldn’t allow kids to do at home. Playing with animals like worms, snakes, and birds may not sounds like your idea of fun, but to a child this can be quite exciting. Get down on their level and experience each activity from their point of view. You may actually have more fun than they do!