they cover, and how many a museum might have are highlighted below.
- These experiences reflect an understanding that healthy development occurs across domains (social, emotional, sensorimotor, language-cognitive) and across all ages. While domains should be reflected in the foundational experiences, domains themselves are not foundational experiences.
- The 6 headline experiences define important areas in which children should enjoy many varied and positive moments, interactions, and opportunities over the years. For each of the experiences, there are many ways a museum might support them with “building-block experiences” which are covered below.
- There’s no right number of foundational experiences, just as there’s no right number of goals for a strategic plan. Having too many, too few, ones that are too broad or too specific can be difficult to manage. To focus, a museum might consider where it has expertise, a track record, and likely opportunities it can offer: outdoors, play, relationships, cultural competence, etc.
- The short answer to how many foundational areas a museum might select is 5-7.
- Foundational experiences are about opportunities children should have for optimal development. Focusing on the child reflects this. Saying children… explore, engage, feel, find, etc. not only places children as the subject, but the structure of the statement itself centers on how children benefit from the building-block experiences: Children enjoy a sense of connection, acceptance, and belonging, when they… feel valued, etc.
- It’s not unusual now-and-then for a building-block experience to fit in more than one area. When that happens, choose the best fit.
- Foundational experiences express an aspiration, a goal. Building-block experiences are stated more like outcomes, or long-term impacts. They point to where a museum has some capacity to provide an experience for a child in its setting that supports development and contributes to positive changes. A museum can identify ways it can contribute to a child finding their way in the world (#6) such as seeing themselves reflected in museum staff and volunteers, in images of children like them and of diverse families, and in experiences personally relevant and meaningful to them.
- Many small and large gestures across every dimension of the museum support the foundational experiences. Although not every foundational experience is present in every activity, gallery, or program, headline and building-block experiences do inform exhibit and program planning, shaping spaces, selecting amenities, and preparing staff and volunteers for interaction. With use, foundational experiences inspire activities, translate into criteria for planning, become part of the museum’s shared vocabulary, and focus evaluations.
- To get to a final version of the experiences, a few test questions helpful: Do the experiences all use the same format? Are they parallel to one another, for instance, do they start with verbs? Are they in the museum’s own voice?