Kids don’t want to get dragged somewhere on a weekend or over the summer to learn anything. That’s so uncool (or lame,or whatever word the kids are using now. If I ask, they’ll just make fun of me.) Yet we manage to take our kids to 4-6 museums a year without death threats or bribery.
I’d like to say it is through my great parenting skills or because my kids respect me enough to do what I say, but if I’m being honest, it’s probably neither of those things (maybe if my wife were writing this, that would be more believable). The truth is that the kids WANT to go these places, because we don’t really make it about the education aspect. We try to make it more about whatever interests the kids have, because you’d be surprised at how much they retain when it is something they want to learn.
For example, Marcus was learning about the first moon landing. So we took a trip to the National Air and Space Museum, where he got to see a testing version of a lunar module. Pretty cool stuff. For months afterward, it was like living with a tiny rocket scientist. It felt like he remembered the entire tour. When Tonya couldn’t figure out the difference between seals and sea lions, we went to the New York Aquarium to find out (this was before I knew that google has the answer to everything, although I still prefer to figure it out myself). Turns out, sea lions are the ones who walk and have visible ears, while seals crawl on their bellies and you can’t see any ear flaps. I know this because I just went and asked Tonya; she’s remembered it since that day when she asked one of the aquarium staff. When the kids were learning about the witch trials, we piled into the car and got thoroughly creeped out in Salem, Massachusetts. But again, it’s something the kids never forgot.I mean, really, there’s a guy who got PRESSED to death. That’s pretty memorable. They learned about ancient Egypt in school and were shocked to discover that there’s a pyramid right here in New York City; it’s at the MoMA. They still love visiting it.
That’s the stuff I’m talking about. It doesn’t have to be earth-shattering or anything, and we’ve never made the kids write reports about what they saw when they got home (although I am kicking myself a little about that, it might have actually been kind of fun to do. I doubt the kids would see it that way, though. How about you give it a try and let me know how it goes?)Just find something that sparks their imagination a little and they’ll take it from there. Or, better yet, find something they’re struggling to understand and find something relating to THAT. It might just be the missing piece to get it all to click in their heads.
For the cost of the price of admission, that’s a pretty great deal, and it’s one I’ll take every time!