Parents and Teachers
Even before your child is born, all the nerve cells he will ever possess have been formed. These nerve cells are like a mass of unconnected electrical wires. From the time your child is born, his brain will constantly strive to connect the wires. But what makes the wires connect and what does the connection mean to a growing child? Every time an infant is held, read to or plays with a toy, these nerves make a connection. During the early years of life, these wires are connecting at an amazing pace, and once-in-a-lifetime windows of opportunity are opening to learn certain tasks. The multiple mediums of developmental exploration offered at Hands On! enable young children to “make more connections” during these incredibly important developmental years. (Cited on www.growingchild.com/brain.html)
Children develop skills in five main areas of development:
- Cognitive Development – This is the child’s ability to learn and solve problems. For example, this includes a two-month-old baby learning to explore the environment with hands or eyes or a five-year-old learning how to do simple math problems.
- Social and Emotional Development – This is the child’s ability to interact with others, including helping themselves and self-control. Examples of this type of development would include: a six-week-old baby smiling, a ten-month-old baby waving bye-bye or a five-year-old boy knowing how to take turns in games at school.
- Speech and Language Development – This is the child’s ability to both understand and use language. For example, this includes a 12-month-old baby saying his first words, a two-year-old naming parts of her body or a five-year-old learning to say “feet” instead of “foots”.
- Fine Motor Skill Development – This is the child’s ability to use small muscles, specifically his hands and fingers, to pick up small objects, hold a spoon, turn pages in a book, or use a crayon to draw.
- Gross Motor Skill Development – This is the child’s ability to use large muscles. For example, a six-month-old baby learning how to sit up with some support, a 12-month-old baby learning to pull up to a stand holding onto furniture and a five-year-old learning to skip.
Education is paramount to fulfilling our mission, and programs are an important educational vehicle. At Hands On!, a ‘program’ is considered any special activity or class that promotes education and learning in a fun way. Specifically, educational programming at Hands On! includes activities such as:
- In-house activities like Mad Science, a fun, creative and zany way to learn all about science; Music and Movement; summer mini-camps such as Comedy Camp, Dinosaur Dig, Wiggle With the Worms, and literacy- and health-related activities that connect Hands On!’s exhibits with programming from community partners.
- Traveling educational programs aligned with NC Standard Course of Study taken into classrooms at area schools and preschools.
School teachers and administrators let us know how important Hands On! is to them. According to Past Lead Teacher at Hillandale Elementary School, Kelly Walker, Hands On!’s Educational Programming helps meet the need for high quality educational activities and links the rich learning world of Hands On! directly with students, teachers and classrooms in Henderson County and surrounding areas. Ms. Walker states, “Through Hands On! programs, elementary school students make connections between the NC Standards and objectives for science at their grade level and real-world applications of scientific principles and concepts.” Hands On!’s programs reinforce learning in the classroom by providing hands-on activities and by allowing students opportunities to complete experiments and observe demonstrations.
Our “Mad Scientists on Wheels Workshops” traveling program has been aligned with NC Science Essential Standards and you can learn more by clicking here.
Look inside Hands On! and watch a family put on a play together or interact while grocery shopping. Countering the challenge of scarce family time, children’s museums are a place away from domestic distractions, where parents and caregivers have the chance to get lost in the moment of interacting with their children. According to the Institute for Learning Innovation, family learning is defined as the process of social interaction, collaboration and sharing among members of a multi-generational group across the lifespan of the family. Within the context of a children’s museum, research indicates that learning is more likely to occur with adult interaction than without (Gaskins et al 2001). Through family support such as verbal coaching, modeling behavior, physical assistance and dialogue, children are able to make developmental leaps (Beckstrom et al 2005).
A 1997 ZERO TO THREE survey revealed that while parents understand that their children’s earliest years powerfully shape later development and learning, they are often unsure about what they should be doing to promote healthy emotional, social and intellectual development. Children’s museums translate research findings into clear, practical messages for parents. Museum staff, signage and exhibit environments inform adults and children about the characteristics of play and how to encourage play. In other words, children’s museums serve as play mentors, teaching families how to learn together through play. Finally, family learning and children’s museums are more than informal contexts to sharpen knowledge and skills. Children’s museums provide families a rich social and leisure time experience.