What is the first image that comes to your mind when you hear the word “museum”? Is it white walls with objects behind glass that should be admired, but not touched? Or maybe you see a tour guide directing you through exhibits and sharing facts and stories? A children’s museum couldn’t be more different! Imagine a colorful place where deliberate design facilitates play for children that enables discovery and education while creating community. Children’s museums understand that play is learning, and it is critical to the healthy social, emotional, and cognitive development of children.
Young guests lead the way at children’s museums. Our youngest visitors explore on their own, which allows their individual learner instincts to take over. Their individual interests may have them build a fort with huge blue blocks, make a pretend meal using mud in the garden, or climb to the top of a pyramid so they can see the downtown skyline. When you allow children to do this at their own pace, and in a child-center environment, they are completely engaged in the activity at every step of the process.
At a children’s museum, it is very important for visitors to use props to engage in learning and help start conversations. Through conversations and shared play, social skills and community are developed. “When we play, we are engaging in complex interactions with each other and those social interactions become relationships,” states Laura Huerta Migus, Executive Director of Association of Children’s Museums.
Finally, a children’s museum is a place for all children. Children’s museums believe that every family that enters should be able to have a positive experience, free from bias. Museums often acknowledge diversity in their community by hosting special events that enable children to see their experiences mirrored within the Museum and reflected in their programming. Also, interactive exhibits aid in removing language as a barrier.
The Greensboro Children’s Museum is a private, 501(c)3 nonprofit, which relies heavily on the support of individuals, corporations, and foundations to provide education through play for children in our community. The Museum’s mission is to engage all children and families in hands-on, learning experiences which contribute to their growth and development through play, creation, outdoor exploration, and STEM activities.
When you walk through the doors you will find a space for your child that encourages discovery, play, social development, learning and community. And while you are here, you may find the value of play yourself!