How We Explore as a Family
explore: to travel through (an unfamiliar area) in order to learn about it.
Exploring opens up our minds to what else is possible. It provides a new view and perspective and helps us understand history and what the future could possibly hold.
When it comes to exploring with our kids, we are guilty of thinking our kids may not like something before even testing it out. This could be an event in the city, an art exhibition or a historic location. We will think they may not like or find it boring, which is the worst word in a kids’ vocabulary right?
However, we have found that just going for it and making it about exploring together as a family has made it fun for us all. It’s not perfect, we’ve gone to some events or places that haven’t been the greatest fit for our family, but more often we’ve found it to be fun and we’ve learned a ton.
We try to be intentional leading up to the exploring time. If we’re headed to an art exhibition we try to find more information on the artists or maybe a documentary or youtube video about them. While many times our children have said they are bored while watching the film, it has always turned out to be beneficial when we get to the actual exhibition.
They have a different point of view because they understand the artist more or what the artist might have intended for the pieces we’re seeing. For instance, at a recent exhibit, the kids knew they were supposed to interact with the art, while many of the adults didn’t understand this. Our kids were standing in front of a light which would change the art piece on the wall, which was exactly what the artists intended but so many didn’t read the description and understand it. So while they may have been “bored” watching part of the documentary, it changed their experience with the art and appreciation for it.
In London and the surrounding areas, we often are exploring places of historical significance. We’ll find some fun facts ahead of time to tell the kids about where we’re going or we’ll see if we can find a show or youtube clip about it too. Our kids tend to enjoy historical sites so we don’t always have to do a ton ahead of time but we prepare them for what to expect and the types of things we’ll be seeing. Most historic sites are good at having activities for kids or lots of plaques with information that help us understand the place more.
If you are traveling to London, so many of the museums are free which makes it perfect for a family. A lot of the museums also have tailored experiences for kids from an app at the historic palaces where they can try to steal jewels from the king to backpacks at the Victoria & Albert Museum where they can explore an area in depth and accomplish the challenges to listening to sounds at Tate Modern that go with the art pieces. There’s a lot museums are doing to help kids appreciate the museum in new ways and it’s fun for adults too. We’ve discovered so many new things or learned a bunch that we probably wouldn’t have by just walking through the areas.
Our kids love exploring new places, or exploring a place we frequent, but in new ways,but let’s be clear that they don’t always go into it with massive enthusiasm. Often we’ll hear complaints that they want to stay home and play video games (because they only get them on the weekends). They will say “that sounds boring” as we tell them our plans that day. Sometimes in the middle of the exploring someone has a meltdown or one of them has stepped on the others’ foot and we’re having a full-out sibling fight in front of a Monet painting. Often we have to explain the nude nature of the art or the interesting modern pieces and talk about their possible meaning. Other times our daughter runs down a corridor filled with nude statues pointing at each one and yelling “Naked Butt!” over and over.
It’s not perfect, but we’ll still continue to explore with our family because the benefits far outweigh the stresses that may come too. We’ve seen our kids make amazing connections to history and what they want to help prevent in the future, we’ve seen them appreciate art on a new level and come home wanting to create, and we’ve seen them want to walk through an exhibit over and over because they loved it so much.
Exploring with your kids opens up your eyes to a new world too. They see things differently, with more openness and fresh eyes and it changes your view.
We’ll continue to travel through unfamiliar areas in order to learn all about them and expand our world.