So you love museums, and hope to pass this passion on to your children. But when and how should you start?

I was wondering this as Nina grew up into toddlerhood. Waiting and hesitating, I couldn’t wait to take her but also didn’t want to risk her hating museums by starting too early. Also, what if she started crying? I didn’t want to be that mother with the crying baby in a place that’s supposed to be quiet.

Wait until your child’s ready

I took the plunge when Nina turned 3. She had more understanding about things, had been fully toilet-trained for months, and had longer attention span. I also took the same opportunity to take her on her first train ride. If your child doesn’t seem to enjoy their visit yet, call it a day and try again some time later.

Go for Interactive Museums, Science Centres or Children’s Museums

One of Nina’s favourite museums is the Grimm’s fairytale museum in Hanau, Germany, since every display is playable and interactive. It also features familiar characters from fairytales that she’s already known. The museum is not very big so she doesn’t have to walk too far, it feels like a playroom with a library corner. Best thing: she gets to dress up before she enters! I think this, along with interactive science centres, is the perfect kind of museums to start them up with. To help them grow fond of museums, I believe it’s paramount to first make them see museums as fun places. The learning will automatically happen when they enjoy their visit!

Research Special Events and Exhibitions

Sometimes museums would have exhibitions or special days – be sure to find out about them. When we visited the Railway Museum in Darmstadt, Germany, our guide told us about their upcoming ‘open day’. I’m so glad he did because the museum was more like a fairground on that day! We got to ride actual trains and toy trains, there were bouncy castle, ball pool, snack bar and an ice cream van. We really had a blast that day – we stayed literally the whole day from the time it opened until it was ready to close.

Choose a Theme That Your Child Enjoys

There are museums about pretty much everything… try to go with your child’s interest. They love vehicles? Find a transport museum. They love dinosaurs? Natural history museum it is. Trains? Railway museum.

No Pressure

I treat museum visits the same way as zoo or park visits – it’s a fun activity. I try not to guide her to look at certain displays (which is not easy for me because I like to look at everything in order), but instead I let her view any displays that she’s interested in, for as long (or as little) as she’d like. I’d show her displays she might have missed, but if she’s not interested then we move on.

I’d like to think that I’ve somewhat successfully transferred my love for museums to Nina… because a year on, and many museums later, she tends to refuse to leave once she’s inside one. She is as excited to visit a museum as she is a playground. I hope this will only grow as she grows up.

Instilling Love for Museums in Young Children
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