Welcoming Young Children into the Museum
A Practical Guide
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Welcoming Young Children into the Museum provides all of the information practitioners need to consider when making the decision to engage with this audience and their carers. Meeting the reader where they are, this guide enables professionals to work toward outcomes that fit with their needs.
Working methodically from the initial stages of bringing staff on board, through to implementation and evaluation, readers are carefully steered through each phase. "Big-picture" needs, like adherence to mission, are considered alongside logistical components, like cleaning schedules, to ensure that museums cater to young children in a way that is beneficial to both the visitors and the institution. Drawing on current neurological research and best practices in early childhood education and development, this guide presents case studies from a variety of different institutions around the world that demonstrate that creating interesting, developmentally appropriate opportunities for young children is about much more than just simplifying what is already on offer. Erdman, Nguyen and Middleton demonstrate that the age and needs of the visitors must be taken into careful consideration, as well as the assets and potential obstacles of the institution.
Welcoming Young Children into the Museum will be essential reading for professionals working in museums large and small, regardless of type. It will be useful to those who are considering setting up new programmes for early years audiences and those with existing programmes, who would like to improve their offering.
Table of Contents
Introduction: Why Young Children in Museums?; 1. Reflection and Research: Preparing the Ground; 2. Early Childhood Education: Laying the Foundation; 3. Physical Environment and Available Information: Leveling the Floor; 4. Program Planning: Framing the Walls; 5. Making Exhibits for Young Children: Designing the Interior; 6. Staff Training: Making a House a Home; 7. Reflection and Review: Why This is All Worth It; Appendix A: Story Time Resources; Appendix B: Anti-Bias Anti-Racist Learning Resources; Appendix C: Selected Resources
Sarah Erdman is a mom, museum professional and early childhood educator. Her professional practice focuses on how to best serve young children in informal learning settings. She has a MAT in Museum Education and an AAS in Early Childhood Development and has been teaching for over 10 years in formal and informal learning environments.
Nhi Nguyen is an experienced early childhood museum educator based in Philadelphia. She graduated from Haverford College with a degree in Anthropology and received her graduate degree in Museum Education at the University of the Arts in Philadelphia. Her research focuses on promoting a positive racial identity in young children through museum programming.
Margaret Middleton is an independent exhibit designer currently based in Belfast, Northern Ireland and working at the intersection of design and social justice. Middleton has a degree in industrial design from the Rhode Island School of Design and over 15 years of experience working in the museum field.