With the technological advancements and lifestyle changes due to new age job requirements, the social learning aspects of children in cities and towns across the world have become minimal and many of the developmental milestones are getting missed leading to learning difficulties later in formal educational institutions, said Dilip Nagarkar before facilitating my visit to Children's Hands-On Museums in Ann Arbor of Michigan province during my stay with him in the US about two years ago.
Since he had taken his children to this unique museum a few times when they were little, to get them hands-on play and sensory experiences, it gave his wife and him, as parents, expertise in child development skills and the children, the time to communicate with each other and learn through play-way methods.
He recommended that such hands-on museums should be opened not only in cities but also in towns since they not only help children in acquiring developmental milestones but lead to early detection of children's disorders and disabilities for timely therapeutic interventions.
He seemed to be well informed when he said that the hands-on sensory experiences were also important for brain development and basic cognitive learning. "For children with special needs and those with sensory integration disorders, sensory play activities are therapeutic for early intervention and correction," he remarked. The visit was recommended by Vinita Nagarkar who is involved in running an innovative school in Pune in India and it turned out to be worth it.
When we reached the Ann Arbor Hands-On Museum housed in a colourful four-storey building, we bought the tickets to enter the museum. Inside, we saw the children of all ages and their parents engaged in various activities as it was the week-end.
I went around and it took me the whole day to visit and look at about three hundred hands-on exhibits and read the information about them. For me it was a practical refresher course in the area of applied developmental psychology since I too tried my hand on 20 odd exhibits and had the feel, the experiences that I had missed out in my childhood since I was also to do a research assignment in special education.
Some mothers bring their children daily to the place for informal learning and spend a few days in each section of the museum to master different stages of development of learning through play and sensory experiences. One could see babies, infants, pre-schoolers, toddlers, and primary school children enjoying and learning with friendly and supportive museum staff who were highly professional.
A parent said that the hands-on activities were really cool, but the place is expensive and parking fee for the full day, a bit taxing, therefore, I bring my children on the week-ends but it is worth it since we can also get the expert consultation and counselling.