When the summer holidays draw closer and closer, some mothers and carers may start to wonder how they are going to keep their child amused for six weeks, before they can be packed off back to school for another ten months.
For parents or children?
Museums must seem, at times, like the holy grail of holiday activities. Massive buildings full of fun activities that can be explored several times. Staff and other children to hopefully keep a child entertained while their mother sneaks a sit down after a long walk through the dinosaur gallery.
And, as a bonus, a cultural experience where a child can leave knowing far more about space, the Tudors, or polar bears, than they knew at the beginning of the day.
However, with annual day trips from a young age, there is the question of whether children actually benefit from museums. Is it all, perhaps, just a way to keep them temporarily entertained? This is a question we must ask, particularly in today’s society, where technology has somewhat changed the way children grow up.
A lifetime’s tradition
Recently, I went to the Imperial War Museum in London for its reopening following its complete redesign. For me, going to museums in the summer holidays was a tradition, something that was extended during term time at school when we had even more trips to museums.
Therefore, it’s hardly surprising that I have visited the Imperial War Museum about twelve times in nineteen years, in a mixture of school trips and summer days out. While I can now successfully navigate my way around the maze that is the Natural History Museum, it makes me wonder whether I got something out of my visit all those twelve times.
Was it worthwhile?
Looking back, I’m certain that I gained far more out of my visits to museums when I was an older child. By then, I understood the facts and figures being presented to me, whereas when I was younger, all I really knew was that under no circumstances was I to run off on my own.
Much like revising for an exam when you keep going back to the information you have to remember, repeat visits to museums can hardly be called a bad thing, especially if a child is absorbed by their surroundings on every visit. Isn’t it better to build up your knowledge of something rather than not visiting or learning at all?
Increasingly, many places in local communities, including museums, are becoming far more aware of how to entertain and inspire children through extensive holiday programmes with workshops, crafts and special exhibitions.
For instance, the Natural History Museum has the ‘Sensational Butterflies’ exhibition this summer, aimed directly at children, meaning a trip to a museum isn’t all serious and factual.
One person who agrees that the extra activities on offer during the holidays are a good thing, is Tijana Todorinovic, a student in London who has two younger sisters that need to be kept entertained.
She says: “I always love to take my sisters to the extra workshops going on in museums. I think they really remember what they see as they always mention things we did last time in the museum when we go back.”
A time for freedom
The summer is a time for children to explore their interests and hobbies without the pressure of teachers or homework. I was interested in history as a child so I really loved going to historical palaces.
A particular favourite was Hampton Court Palace, which would have actors playing Henry VIII and his many wives.
There are so many museums across the country that can help inspire and evolve a child’s love for a subject. And adults can share their knowledge and enjoy the experience too.
With the price of living going up and up and a lot of museums being completely free, or at most, having a minimum charge, museum visits are hardly a waste of time.
These are spaces that encourage and teach future and current generations, as well as entertaining them for a day. Museums are notoriously seen as ‘adult-only’ places, full of boring facts and artefacts for most children.
Now though, it is clear that visiting museums during the holidays has become a rite of passage, and they are widely seen as havens of knowledge, excitement, and endless entertainment for the children of today.
What do you think? Have your say in the comments section below.