by Cathy Saunders
Director of Education
Welcome to Providence Children’s Museum! It’s bright, it’s imaginative, it’s full of fun activities. Children of all ages know just what to do when they arrive — but parents are sometimes stumped. They wonder what their role may be — and what their children are going to “get out” of a visit.
What IS a children’s museum? What are we supposed to do here? These are reasonable questions — we hear them every day.
The Museum is a place where you and your children can experience the joy of discovery and wonder — by exploring together in a relaxed informal setting. Follow your child’s lead, but also point out things that interest or attract you. “Look at these beautiful puppets. Wow! There’re all handmade.” Expressing interest yourself encourages your children to share their enthusiasms.
The Museum is a place to play. Play is a research activity. It is motivated by children’s curiosity and desire to find out about the world. You can encourage that curiosity by asking open-ended questions: “What do you think will happen if…?” “What would you bring if you moved to another country?” Listen carefully to your children’s responses; they will give you cues to ask more.
The Museum is a place for you to observe your children’s learning styles. Children, like adults, approach learning in different ways. Are your children guessing? Discussing ideas? Problem solving? Testing, examining, being inquisitive? Does your child jump right into activities–or first observe and ask questions? Does she tend to stay with one activity for a long time — or try out all the activities in rapid succession? Does he work individually — or prefer joining a group? Is she totally absorbed by the science of how things work — or by imaginary play? Watch them play and learn. They will tell you by their actions and reactions what inspires and interests them.
The Museum is a place for you to discover what fascinates your child. You can build on the interests reflected by your children’s actions at the Museum. Share your observations with teachers and apply them to your children’s play and learning at home; use them as a guide to what books you select when you go to the library.
At Providence Children’s Museum, we believe children learn best when they want to learn, when the environment and adults and activities encourage them to pose their own questions and give them the freedom to search for their own answers. They may pick up facts here — what the leg bones are called or what type of bridge can carry the most weight — but our primary goal is to help kids see themselves as learners and learning as an attractive choice they can make for themselves. As parents, you can help them develop that positive attitude toward learning that will last a lifetime.
News and Notes from Providence Children’s Museum: Occasional posts about things to do with our kids – from places to go, things to make, ideas to think about, and ways to explore. Providence Children’s Museum – 100 South Street, Providence, RI. 401-273-5437 (KIDS).