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  • Writer's pictureKristin

How to Enjoy Museums with Young Kids

Anyone else avoid museums when traveling with young kids? We’ve been guilty of that in the past. It just seemed to be a disaster waiting to happen…or a constant reminding to be quiet or not touch things. However, we’re currently in Europe and there is too much history to avoid museums, castles, churches, etc. constantly. These are the tips we have to help enjoy your visit to the museum with young kids.

Right Mindset

Have the expectation upfront that you probably won’t be able to read a lot of the display information, time to really look in details at the exhibits or get 100% out of the exhibit. It’s just not realistic when you have kids. If it’s something that you really want to get a lot out of, and you’re traveling as a family, it’s probably best that each parent takes a shift watching the kids. In addition, often times, I’ll do additional internet research before or after visiting.

Well Rested Children

An overtired child probably isn’t going to make a museum visit very enjoyable. There are just too many variables that can ‘rock the boat.’ Therefore, it’s a much better experience if everyone is well rested prior to the visit. I know at times we have been guilty of this one, because we’re limited to the time we have in one place. However, we at least try not to do museums, castles, etc. after a flight or travel day where they might be jetlagged.

Audio Guides

Who would have thought?? We have used these before when Clara was 3 years old, but it typically only lasted a few minutes. We recently tried it again when we visited the Royal Castle in Warsaw, Poland and they both calmly and slowly walked through the rooms while listening to their guides. It was almost like a treasure hunt for them. They would go to the next room looking for the number and then punch it into the device. How much did they learn? Probably not much….but it helped the visit go much smoother.

Interactive Museums or Displays

Choose museums that have some hands-on elements. For instance, the replica sewer system and the telegraph machine at the Warsaw Uprising Museum in Poland were great little aspects to help break up more ‘non-simulating’ parts for kids.

Make up a Story or a Treasure Hunt

Allow some imaginary play – for instance, if at a castle and your child loves princesses, pretend they it is their castle or that they are visiting their favorite princess. Or for older children, make up a list of things to search for while in the museum and they have to tick off the items they found.

Spend Time Outdoors as Part of Your Visit

Pick museums/palaces/castles that have outside elements and explore outside for a good portion of the visit. This will also allow a natural break to happen, and some freedom for them to talk normally or expend some energy.

Do Something Active Prior to Visiting

Do playground visits before or after (or both!) to allow kids opportunity ‘to be kids.’ Going to the museum after the playground or other physical activity is probably the most effective, as they have had some natural release of energy.

Give a Reward Post-Visit

Set an expectation prior to entering the exhibit that if they do well, they can get an ice cream or other treat after the visit. Or in other words, bribery can also be effective…..LOL.

Ultimately you know your child best, but hopefully there might be one or two things that might help you enjoy your family experience at the museum with young kids!



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