This text was inspired by my conversations with Aline Smyth, and a her written document on the subject. Aline is a mother of 2, and an experienced early childhood educator, who would take Geneva creche groups to the The Musée d’Art et d’Histoire aka MAH.
Together with Aline we share the same view: MAH is a perfect museum for kids of all ages!
As soon as your child is interested in big format picture books, he is ready for a trip to the museum.
Many of you already know MAH, and their kids activities: MAH a Petits Pas (eng. MAH with small steps), for ages 3-5. For those who have never heard about it, these are guided visits specifically cerated for kids: they’re short, amusing, and a great introduction to culture life for kids.
Yet, sometimes group activities are not the best fit, sometimes a more one on one museum time is more beneficial and joyful. As a parent I know that not all kids like group activities, not all like the same pace of activities, and a fixed schedule with kids is often fine only on paper.
Let’s start from shifting our mindset. What is a museum, or rather what can it be for young children? It’s a giant, 4D picture book. It’s a treasure hunt maze. And that long staircase? It’s a mountain to climb!
So how to visit MAH, or any other big museum? By taking small steps of course!
You can try and take all these steps at one go, or spread them among days, weeks, or months.
Eat and pee first.
There is nothing worse than trying to have fun with a hungry child, or one with a full bladder.
Have no expectations, don’t force anything. Let your child explore, look at what he/she likes. And have an ice-cream afterwards in Le Barocco.
The first time you go, just focus on the building itself: humongous door a dinosaur could fit. And the red carpet leading you up and down to different sections of the museum? Could it be lava we can fight? Remember to explore the mosaic on the floor just before the entry to the fine arts gallery.
Every time you enter a new room, stop for a moment. Help your child notice what is different, name the color.
Choose just one painting, by the time you get to it your kid might already be tired or bored. If you think your child is up for it, choose more than one: a whole theme maybe.
One of the trick we used was asking Z to find one thing in each room: an orange, a dog, a boy. A simple form of a treasure hunt. You don’t need to prepare beforehand, a quick look at the paintings around and you’ll find what you need. Just remember to talk, name things and colors, and ask questions.
Another idea is to use your child’s current passion and search for art related to that: ancient Egypt? Fashion? Food? Animals? Transportation? You’ll find everything in MAH.
If you prefer the group visits created by MAH themselves, you can check the schedule by going to their website.
I hope these tiny tips, and small steps, will make your family trips to museums fun, and something to look forward to!