Monday 30th , 2012
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Making the Most of your Day at Kidspace…

I’m a parent. I have three children: A 5 year old, a 2 year old and an 8 month old. When my oldest son was about 2½ years old a friend and I decided that we Dad’s would take our eldest children to a local amusement park for some special Daddy bonding time.

249 The plan was hatched and we were on our way. We arrived at the park and things were going exactly according to plan. We carpooled, we parked, and we rode the tram in (one of the best rides). Upon entering the park we headed straight for the section that’s geared for the little ones. It was going great, we’d ride this, we’d go on that, we’d see that show, eat a corn dog and do it all again. If all went to plan, by the end of the day our little ones would be tuckered out and we would have scored major Dad points. The plan could not have been more perfect.

Then something happened, we spotted the fountain/ water play area. No big deal, I came prepared! I had a change of clothes, shoes, socks, extra everything. Our kids went charging for the misters, the fountains, the pillars covered in water and in about 30 seconds they were soaked from head-to-toe. In another 30 seconds there was an “accident” in the area (not involving our children) and the water area had to be shut down for an extended period so it could be cleaned.

Clothes were changed and we moved on, ready to continue with the master plan. The master plan, however, never continued. My son wasn’t interested in what was being offered. No rides! No shows! No visiting with giant-costumed characters, No corn dogs even! A Disaster? No, not in the slightest. We were with our kids, they had a blast and, of course, we scored major bonus Dad points.

What does this have to do with you?

Working here at Kidspace I see a lot of families come through our Kaleidoscope and I wanted to give you fellow parents and care takers out there a few insider tips on how to make the most of your experience.

First off, start your time at Kidspace before you arrive. Our website (http://www.kidspacemuseum.org) has some incredible resources to help you plan your next visit. There’s great information on exhibits, daily programs, special events, classes, etc. that will help you know what to expect. My encouragement to you is to take it one step further and fill your child in on where you’re going and what you might do. Let them participate in the decision making process, give them the freedom to decide what you’ll see and what 250 you’ll do. Not only will this help you enjoy the time with your child but studies have shown that including young children on decision making aids in their development as an independent, capable, and fully functional individual (http://www.cscr.murdoch.edu.au/_docs/involvingchildren.pdf).

Second, when you’re here, be here. Kidspace cares very deeply about enriching the lives of children through experiential education. We love it, we value it, and we believe it’s a large part of what makes Kidspace such a special place. A large piece of what makes experiential education with young children work is not us, it’s you. Kidspace programs, exhibits, and environments are designed so that you, the care taker, can experience the museum with your kids. What am I trying to say? When you come to Kidspace with your kids be ready to enjoy the day with them. Wear comfortable clothes and shoes. Clothes you could play in. Leave your reading material in your car and, as much as you can, leave your cell phone in your bag. Decide from the very onset that your cell phone will not take priority over your experience with your child. We’ve worked hard to make Kidspace a great place to be. I strongly encourage you to experience Kidspace along with your child.

Finally, set small goals. There is a lot to see and do at Kidspace. Depending on you and your child you might struggle to even see everything in a single day, let alone really have an in depth experience. If your child is especially interested in a particular topic you may not even make it out of our Nature Exchange. I recommend having a favorites list and an unknowns list. As you plan your day, pick two favorite activities or programs or exhibits and one complete unknown. Sandwich the day so you start with a favorite, move to an unknown, and end with a favorite. For example, if your child loved open art in Flutterby’s Art Center and the Climbing Towers, you could start the day off climbing both towers (you and your child) and then something a little more unknown like a challenge booklet or two in our Nature Exchange and then round off the day by cruising back to Flutterby’s Art Center to craft a masterpiece.

251 Of course, what makes planning to get the most out your visit so much easier is becoming a member of Kidspace so you and your child can enjoy Kidspace as often as you like.

For more information about memberships please go to: www.kidspacemuseum.org/memberships