In this day and age our children have no shortage of ways to keep busy outside of their normal school responsibilities. Video games, sports, music lessons and more have parents running youngsters back and forth on a regular basis. The pressures from state-mandated educational requirements have teachers bustling about to make time for all that is expected of them. Due to all of the hectic schedules, the unique opportunity to learn and grow from frequenting your local museums can easily be overlooked.
Involving students in hands-on experiences that museums offer has many more benefits for children of all ages than most people realize. Let’s explore some of the ways in which students can profit from visiting museums.
Personal Connection – Exploring and experiencing all that a museum has to offer, enables students to form a personal connection with the subjects they are being taught about in school. Reading about the very first military plane in a history book is one thing, but encountering it with their very own eyes is quite another! The size, the smell and feel of the construction, the ability to see how it was flown are all things that cannot be taught in a classroom.
Cultural Experiences – Too often, we find ourselves stuck in the same habits, talking to the same people, eating the same foods and visiting the same places. When children can learn about different cultures, people and historical events from other times and places, it widens their awareness of the world around them. Understanding other people or past events can open doors of acceptance and cooperation.
Community Involvement – When students visit museums, the experiences they have will hopefully inspire them to become involved in their own community. The knowledge they will gain can build confidence and allow them to seek additional growth opportunities. These might include volunteering their time or even participating in fundraising efforts for their local museums.
Empathy – The ability to show empathy is a trait that must be developed over time, and for young, impressionable children, it is important to provide opportunities to foster such development. Visiting museums, particularly those of a historical nature, can allow young students to further their awareness and empathy for others. They may learn of tragic events, perhaps the struggles of past minority groups, or even distinguished historical figures and courageous decisions they made for the sake of an important cause. Learning these things will stimulate the minds of students—allowing them to explore their own thoughts and feelings.
Inspiration – Perhaps one of the most valuable experiences received from visiting a museum is inspiration—aspiring to be a better person, a better global citizen or even inspiration for a future career path. The summer STEM program at the Hill Aerospace Museum gives many students the opportunity to explore science in a new or alternative way. Children can find a greater appreciation for the world around them and its fascinating possibilities.
The secret to helping children and students become well-rounded, diversified individuals just might be found in the pages of a book. Providing them the chance to experience museums and develop a personal connection to the past, present and what may come in the future is a gift. The unique knowledge and experiences they gain will continue to grow within each child and shape their future to one of aspiration and educational success.