Why I Don’t Like Children’s Museums

Dear Reader,

I have a confession to make. I really don’t like going to children’s or science museums. I feel like I should like them. The kids love to go and friends are always inviting us to join them. So we do end up doing a few a year. But I always regret it.

For one thing, it is not a good way to socialize with friends. I usually go for the chance to get together with another family. But the truth is when we are there we are so busy watching children and the place is so noisy and chaotic that we don’t have real conversations.

Which brings me to reason number two: the atmosphere. Even at the best of times, these places are noisy and chaotic. They give me a headache.

All of these things I would put up with if I could see that my kids were getting something out of the museums. But honestly I find this pretty rare.  We went to a science museum last week which was geared right to my kids’ ages. In fact they call it “the fun science museum” (as opposed to another one nearby).  There are signs to explain the exhibits and the concepts are well within their ability to grasp. But when faced with a display, they are not inclined to read the signs or ask themselves “what is this trying to teach me?” They push the buttons or whatever they are supposed to do and observe the fun things that happen, but they don’t get it. I did try and explain some things to them last week. I probably could have done more, but I was just trying to endure that atmosphere. And to get them to slow down and appreciate the educational concepts, I would be constantly stopping their flow of activity (read: wildly running from one display to the next). And especially when we are with other families, I don’t want to be the one saying “stop, slow down, learn from this” all the time. I do enough wrangling of kids and getting them to focus on the next necessary activity at home. I don’t need to be doing this at a museum.

What would I prefer? A nature walk.  A picnic. A lazy afternoon of gardening and outside play. The lessons to find here may be fewer and far between but they are also calm. They seep in. And the kids have to find them for themselves. The museum is signs the kids ignore trying to teach them things or me, if i get up the energy, trying to always redirect and point them to the lesson. An afternoon outside is them experiencing God’s creation and maybe making a few discoveries of their own.



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