When it comes to history and culture, children, much like the proverbial horse, can be lead to water but they cannot be forced to drink. Or in this instance, they can be led to the museum, but they cannot be made to learn. Many children require some encouragement to learn about history. This can be a little intimidating if your children won’t stop bouncing on their beds for long enough to read a book or if their idea of a cultural day out involves dismantling the sofa to build a fort in the garden.
Edutainment – You aren’t Fooling Anyone
Are you the type of parent who attempts to hide vegetables in your children’s meals? Similarly, learning is best served to children with ingenuity and stealth. Twee phrases such as ‘learning can be fun’ or ‘edutainment’ fool no one – least of all your savvy eight-year-old.
Many parents are keen for their children to learn more about their heritage, yet cultural days out can be something of a sticking point for families. While parents seek out things to do with kids which provide fun and education – their children may have very different ideas of how leisure time should be spent.
Struggling to get your kids interested in history?
We often hear how fewer children choose to take history at higher educational levels and the lack of historical knowledge amongst adults is often bemoaned in the media. Stimulating your child’s interest in history and building their knowledge at an early age provides them with a valuable foundation – not just academically but also as a person. Learning about local and family history creates a feeling of identity. Knowledge of national and world history helps us all to develop a better understanding of current social issues and politics.
Don’t Despair! Get Reading
A good way to first stimulate interest is through reading. There are many children’s history books which appeal directly to a child’s innate fondness for blood, guts and anything revolting. Historical facts plus gore equals a satisfying compromise for children and adults, the former get a dose of grisly entertainment and the latter can rest assured that their little darlings are actually learning something. There are many such books available which are well written, properly researched and entertaining, so it is little wonder that they are loved by children and adults alike.
Out and About
Once you have whetted their appetite, you will find that a family day out at a heritage site is not viewed with disdain but excitement! Once upon a time, a visit to a castle or museum could prove something of a disappointment for children. This was due to a distinct lack of dragons, gladiators and wizards. Climbing all over the larger artefacts is generally prohibited and all of a child’s favorite activities – namely shouting, running around and breaking things – are also generally frowned upon.
Rest assured however, that museums and heritage sights increasingly cater to the needs of their younger clientele. There are now plenty of things to do with kids at museums and heritage sites. In fact there are museums aimed exclusively at children, where all the exhibits are hands on and interactive. If you have read up on the subject beforehand with your children you will find it much easier to engage their attention and stimulate discussion.
At many heritage sites you can expect to encounter knowledgeable tour guides (with a flair for the dramatic and suitably eye catching attire) who will certainly capture your kid’s attention. Treasure hunts, adventure playgrounds, hedge mazes, quizzes and interactive displays ensure the kids are both entertained and informed. Have a look at what is available in your area; you may be surprised at the number of heritage sites which are not just child friendly but positively tailored to meet their needs!
Frankie Hughes is a blogger who understands that it is often hard to find things to do with kids to keep them interested whilst educating them. She recommends that if you are struggling to stimulate your child’s mind, why not explore your local heritage sites and museums.