Parents often want to use vacation as a time to help bolster their children's education. A new vacation destination can often bring with it a new glimpse into history. As this photo by Idaho Dad illustrates, a parent's best intentions don't often engage the the minds and hearts of our kids.
This boy visiting the British Museum is more focused on his nintendo instead of being awe inspired by the ancient Egyptian artifacts that surround him. So, when planning a family educational trip or outting, how can we parents avoid scenarios like this one?
Do Your Homework - Plan ahead, especially if you're planning a museum visit while away from home on a family vacation. Most museums have extensive and informative websites. Knowledge in advance of things like admission times, special events, maps and children's programs will help you to plan accordingly and avoid disappointment. Prep your kids and give them some back ground on what they can expect to see during their museum visit. Again, museums have all sorts of materials to back parents up here. Your enthusiam and engagement will often become contagious.
Pick the Right Museum - No matter what your kids are interested in, there is a museum to match that interest. Whether it's a Comic Book Museum, a historical Fashion Exhibit or the Baseball Hall of Fame there is a museum out there for everybody not matter how small those people are.
Be aware of what your kids are currently studying in school. Museums can help bring text books to life. Remember, Museums necessarily mean a building with exhibits. There are plenty of "living museums" like Williamsburg, VA or even the Freedom Trail in Boston.
Do Museums by the Numbers - By numbers here, we mean the age of your children. Perhaps if the boy in our photo was a bit older, he'd have a much better appreciation of the exhibits he is ignoring. As a kid I remember my father thought he was doing a wonderful thing by taking me to see the Peabody Museum in New Haven. Unfortunately my encounter with the gigantic squid meant weeks of nightmares afterwards.
Less is often More - Time your museum visit by your child's attention span. You may be excited about seeing EVERYTHING in the Smithsonian (a task that can actually take weeks to accomplish). Instead, try to curb your enthusiam and just visit highlights your kids will enjoy. Many museums offer discount admission or free visits certain evenings of the week. Deals like this will help the family travel budget as well as helping to save your sanity.
Terms of Engagement -Most museums offer specialized programs or exhibits geared especially for kids. For example, art museums may offer kids programs on certain days. Artists will utilize a particular painting or genre to inspire kids to draw, paint or sculpt their own masterpieces. Kids gain a new appreciation by hands on learning and creativity. Natural history museums have offer camp out nights complete with dinosaur bedtime stories.
Balance - Parents have the best intentions when it comes to their kids and learning opportunities. Still, try not to plan an entire vacation around educational or museum visits. If you'll be spending the day at the museum, choose a family resort with a pool, water park or some other family friendly activities.Balance education with fun and activity. Forcing this issue may work to a parent's disadvantage.
Bribery - Often family harmony is a matter of compromise. It may take a bit of parental finesse to get your kids or teens on board with a museum visit. Hopefully by employing these other suggestions you won't have to resort to techniques like bribery but as parents, we know it never hurts to have a Plan B in your pocket.