“Abstract: Research demonstrates that children have vast potential to expand their knowledge base with simple supports from adults and older children.
Children’s museums have a heightened awareness of the value in and the need to reach out to support adults accompanying children, thus bringing about an emphasis on family learning. Iterative exhibition studies conducted at The Children’s Museum of Indianapolis illustrate the impact of planning for family learning. But for any museum, intentionally applying the strategy of scaffolding by building on simple concepts and working toward mastery of ideas, can inform adults and simultaneously help children stretch to new levels of understanding and achievement. This strategy requires curators, educators and exhibit developers to work collaboratively to determine various levels of accessibility of content and activity moving from entry level ideas through more complex and abstract ones for older children and adults. Children visiting museums of all types is certainly nothing new, but their experience in those spaces has changed over time. From the earliest iterations of children’s museums, to contemporary practices in museums of all types, the attention museum professionals place on the needs of this special audience is changing. The idea of hands-on learning, facilitated and mediated learning experiences, and scaled-down environments have become more prominent (and often expected) in museum settings where young children visit with their families. The increased visitation of family groups, especially those with young children, requires greater attention by museum educators, exhibition developers, and designers to support the learning needs of this audience. Most children’s museums place special emphasis on designing environments that support learning for very young children. Lessons learned from the work done in children’s museums can provide models for those in other museum settings to meet the needs of early learners.”
Wolf, Barbara, and Elizabeth Wood. “Integrating Scaffolding Experiences for the Youngest Visitors in Museums.” Journal of Museum Education 37.1 (2012): 29-38.
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