Educational benefits of bringing children to the museum

By Idiare Kehinde Young.
In recent years, Museums have become visitors-oriented and therefore making their collections and expertise of staff accessible in a way which support and increase learning opportunities for all museum user such as families, preschool children, school children, students of colleges, youths and other higher institution learners. The paper discusses the educational benefits of bringing children to the Museum.

Museums are community centres designed to inform and teach the public. When we ask what is the educational benefit of s museum, the immediate response is academic learning. Absorbing academic information however is scratching the surface of what museums offer to families and specifically children. It can be challenging to bring children to the Museum when they have short attention Span, inability to Read, and no prior knowledge of the subject. By introducing bit size trip with children to the museum, it is actually doing more benefits than just giving class room information on a subject.

Categories of museum visitors

Adults: In the discipline of museum education, adults are regarded as people who are above forty (40) years of age. Within this group are the young at heart and the mature. Majority are usually serious minded visitors, whose solely aim is to acquire knowledge in the museums.

Youth: Youths are described as young people within the above age range includes teenagers even though they are mature in physical appearance and intelligence, many of them are students. To some of them, their reason for visiting the museum is to have fun, enjoy, take photographs, have picnic, walk or ride bicycles. Yet some of them come to the museum to learn, particularly those in the senior secondary schools class who see the museum as an informal education centres which complement their classroom work. The youths are more prone to irrational behavior and exercise, a lot of youthful exuberance.

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Consequently, a museum education officer is expected to handle them with care whenever they are in the museum.

Children: The term children used in the context refers to the group between three (3)and four(4)years that is, children at the pre-primary and elementary school levels. They are extremely active and enjoy a lot of outdoor activities. They trend to express their emotions freely while open anger and outburst are frequent. Some easily show fear or timidity in the presence of unfamiliar adult. Children are capable of using symbols to stand for objects and ideas which make mental manipulation and understanding possible. It is then necessary that children visit to the museum be skillfully handled by the museum education officer in order to obtain the desired objectives which are of numerous benefit to the children

Educational benefits of bringing children to the musuem.

(1) It enhances a love of history: Museums are the caretakers of history as much as they offer connections to history that can easily be overlooked in traditional classrooms. For example the history of Akure. Whether you bring child to a children museum, Art gallery or science museum, history has made s huge impact on the innovation they are witnessing. As parent you don’t have to be expert on the subject matter, however reading out the plaques or door plate in the exhibition will motivate the children to ask questions that will encourage a love of history.

(2) Listening to stories: Museums are full of stories and it is critical for the children to hear those stories. For example, the discovery of soapstone in National Museum Esie Kwara State by a Hunter, where the first Museum was established in Nigeria year 1945.

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(3) compare and contrast: Museums offer opportunities for children to compare and contri what is important for them which leads to higher critical thinking skills. An exhibition that contain various type of artwork and as they stroll through, there will be difference in the style of subject matter, and techniques demonstrated in the artwork which can foster intersecting conversation.

(4) Encourages Questions: As the kids looked at this piece; we asked them to identify different objects and colours, visiting s museum opens the door for the children curiosity in the form of questions. Some of these will be questions that should be encouraged, questions that make you think, and questions that may not have answers.

All of these questions should encouraged, and don’t worry if you don’t know the answers. Ask the children what they believe the answer is and listen to their reasoning.

(5) Boost Language Development: It is not surprise that visiting a museum will assist in this process for not only the children but other viewers. In attempt to identifying words they have never come across.

(6) Encourages New Ideas: An interesting challenge that the children attempt each year they visit a museum or exhibition that doesn’t immediately captivate their interest. The children actually walk through an exhibition that they lack prior knowledge. The purpose behind this is to expose the children into new idea and concepts. When children visit s museum, they acquired new concept or idea that they have not been familiar with.

(7) Museums Inspire the Children: When you walk into a natural history museum that contains the skeleton or embalmed animals of different species from different region or continents such as monkeys, snakes, birds e.t.c, that they have never see in life. Their mind begins to wonder, in view of this ,museums inspire the children to Wonder, imaging and dream of possibilities that are beyond what we know.

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(8) Spares creativity; When the children visit museums, they stop off at the information desk for s list of activities that are taking place in the museum that day and attempt to structure their visit to such an event or activity. Through the museum activities the children are exposed to opportunities that spark creative moments. Such as, drawing and painting, bead making, tie and dye e.t.c.

(9) Fosters Family Bonding; some museums have specific activities and days dedicated to families or children. Museums don’t just attend to the matured visitors but mostly the children who enjoyed museum and become an adult that would like visiting again. There are activities designed by museum that gives every family an opportunities to bridge the gap or foster the family bond such as birthday celebration that enable them to know each other better and engage in meaningful conversations.

(10) Creates lifelong learning; By encouraging your children to visit and play in the museums, it is creating lifelong learning on the children and supply a concrete basis for conceptual thinking. It also offer a reality of experience which stimulates self-activity on the part of the children. The motion pictures develop a continuity of thought as it comes in stages.

In conclusion, the educational benefits of children visiting museums go beyond reinforcing the lessons or the knowledge acquired by the children in the school. Museum add depth to understanding and they open new worlds of interest. Getting children motivated to attend a museum can be as simple as lending advance encouragement.

Idiare Kehinde Young is a Principal Education Officer, National Museum,  Akure, Ondo State.

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