I was quite young when my parents started taking me to different museums and I always enjoyed them. My imagination would start getting wild. I am a firm believer that museums are a great family outing. They are a chance to spend some time together, exploring, learning about the past, present or the future, trying new things and preparing your kid for life. Still, before you go, it's always good to be prepared. Here are my tips on how to make this an all together nice experience - for everyone.
1. Make it fun. You are going to a museum because you want to spend some quality time with your kids. This is not a chore, but a chance to be together and learn something new. Get your kids excited about the prospect of going to a museum. Make it something you all look forward to.
2. Pick the right museum. There are so many museums out there, you can pick the one you like and know something about. This way you get to share your passion with your kids and they will definitely appreciate it more. I took my girls to an art gallery, because I love art and I wanted them to see it. Sometimes they can decide what interests them the most. Especially if this is something you keep on doing, they'll know right ahead what they'd like to visit.
3. Check for special exhibits. When choosing a museum you should definitely check if they have any special exhibits and workshops for kids. I see now that museums are going out of their way to adopt to their new patrons - parents with kids. There is an increase of events museums and galleries offer to kids and their parents. They know they must get the kids involved for the parents to come as well. These events are even more fun as well as educational. When the kids are a bit older they can do the workshops alone and you get to stroll through the museum or have a cup of coffee while waiting for them to finish. It pays to get them excited about museums :).
4. Go slowly. There is no need to see it all the first time around. Pace yourself. Follow your kids' lead. If they are getting bored, agitated or restless, it's time to leave. The goal of the visit is to have fun even if it's just for half an hour.
5. Play games. If you are going to an art gallery you can try and search for certain paintings. Who ever finds one first is the winner. You might also choose a painting and tell your child a story about it (true or make believe). If the kids are older they can try and draw the paintings they see. If you are going to other museums and especially if you know a lot about the exhibits you can try explaining it to your kids. Museums are also becoming very hands on, so there is always a lot of stuff to touch, play with or try.
6. Respect. The outing is a great opportunity for kids to learn that museums and galleries are special places where certain rules must be followed for all the visitors to have a nice time. While they might be encouraged to touch some items, others are strictly forbidden, they should not run around as something might quickly be knocked off and there is no yelling allowed. Our job as parents is to teach our kids proper behavior and let them show respect for other people and their work.
7. Talk about it later. I like to talk to my daughter before she goes to sleep. She is calm then, not distracted and genuinely wants to talk to me. I know it's just so she doesn't have to go to sleep. Still that is the best time for us to recap the daily events. But anytime works. After the visit is done and you are all back home, try discussing it with your kids. What do they remember, what did they like, do they want to go again, etc.
I've probably given you something to think about. There are three days left till the weekend when you'll have a great opportunity to go to a museum. A tip for all of you in Slovenia or visiting Slovenia - some museums here in Ljubljana offer free tickets on the last Sunday of the month. Check out the website for more information: http://www.ljubljana.info/museums/.