The experience doesn't have to end when the program ends. Adult caregivers are looking for ways to "extend" their programmatic experiences in order to encourage their children's learning. Parents have the right idea because research proves that people of all ages learn from assimilating experiences and making relevance from them. This is done during a long "reflective process."
Tips & Takeaways
- The experience doesn't have to end when the program ends. Consider ways to extend the experience while families are in your institution and when they get home.
Quick & Easy To-Dos
- For one program, make a take-home list of relevant books, movies, and online resources for ALL AGES.
- When you finish your program, direct participants to learn or do more related to the program's theme at appropriate spots in your institution.
- Reward activities with certificates of recognition or something to put on the family's refrigerator (families love to take selfies with these!!). Don't forget to put further resources on the back.
Extending Your Program, Extending the Experience
Parents often have post-visit discussions with their children in the car, back at home, or during other family events...families who frequently visit museums (including art museums) often discussed their visit over dinner or referred to it when engaged in a related activity later on.”
- Marianna Adams, et al., "What We Do and Do Not Know about Family Learning in Art Museum Interactive Spaces," 14.
Research shows the importance of the reflective process to learning and finding relevance and connections from new experiences. Our programs are not isolated experiences separate from the rest of our families' lives or their time in our institutions. If we offer programs that families can relate to, the content and experience become part of their family memories and knowledge-base, as Heather Nielsen explains in this video clip:
Look critically at your institution and its resources to find the tools that can encourage families to further explore the program's themes and topics.
- Consider take-homes featuring reading lists, online resources, games, reflective questions, and discussion topics.
- Put out a table of books (especially if you sell them in your store) - include books for all ages.
- If family members show interest in a particular activity or topic, think of places within your institution to direct them (a book, display, or another program).
- At a museum, try ending your program by directing families to explore further in particular gallery.
These two grabbed a book from our Under Pressure program book table and sat down to read about cannons. What ways might you provide opportunities to learn more and continue the experience?
Something to Talk About, More to Do: Examples of "Take Homes"
At the USS Constitution Museum, we try to provide take homes that include related activities, information about the "real" people who served on USS Constitution, and links to our family-friendly website of games and resources, A Sailor's Life for Me. Here are a few examples:
Out Run Out Gun
This serves a dual purpose: it recognizes the family's work designing and building a model boat and it provides further resources from our museum. We figured that this certificate might end up on the refrigerator, so why not take advantage of that?
Built to Win Library Program
This take home for the Museum's library program features information about the Museum, a reading list, and related activities families can do at home. We also asked librarians to pull out related books and resources for both kids AND adults.
These take homes (images show the front [top] and back [bottom]) give families more information about real sailors who served on USS Constitution during the War of 1812 and did the gun crew tasks the family just reenacted during the Under Pressure program. Many of these stories are poignant - few have happy endings. Hopefully it gives families something to talk about.