STEM Pipeline Blog / November 1, 2023
The Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum and the Power of Playtime
Imagine a place where young minds ignite with wonder, a place where play-based learning shapes the next generation of thinkers. The Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum, nestled in the heart of central Michigan, has been kindling this spark for over a decade. If you haven’t yet visited this Isabella County gem, it’s time to add it to your 2024 bucket list. Our museum is proud to be a hub of activities for children in the palm of the state. Our mission is simple yet profound – inspiring creativity, learning, and curiosity.
How do we do that? Through play, of course!
Understand that play and playtime looks different for each child. What is best for one child may not be the best for another. Through intentional observation and sometimes active participation in playtime, a parent can learn the nuances of their needs and behavior.
The Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum offers valuable tips for parents to feel more confident about their child’s playtime and its role in their development:
1. Children need a significant amount of unplugged playtime.
While gadgets and screens have their place, there’s something truly magical about the world of screenless play. No device can replace the sheer joy of stacking blocks with patience and the exhilaration of watching them tumble down. Parents visiting the Discovery Museum often share stories of their kids playing for hours, fully immersed without the need for screens.
As your little ones run, climb, and create with their tiny hands and boundless imagination, they’re not just having fun – they’re supercharging their brainpower for the long run. This screen-free playtime fosters essential skills like problem-solving, social interaction, and creativity. It’s also a secret recipe for emotional regulation, healthy development, enhancing motor skills, and instilling the confidence to explore new horizons. While screens have their merits, don’t underestimate the profound benefits of screen-free play!
2. It’s okay to play with them! In fact, we encourage it.
During playtime, there is something that many, many children absolutely adore: having their parents join in on the fun! It’s not just okay; it’s a fundamental part of their growth. Children are like tiny mirrors, reflecting the actions and attitudes of those around them as they grow and build their own habits and behaviors.
When you dive into play with your child, you become their role model, their guide through life’s ups and downs. You can intentionally showcase examples on how to handle stress, navigate accidents, persist in the face of challenges, and practice patience. Your presence provides a blueprint for building confidence and honing
communication skills they can take with them into the future.
And here’s the real gem – your inner child gets to come out and play too! It’s not just a duty; it’s a joy. The time spent bonding through play can create a strong bond of trust
between you and your child. At the Discovery Museum, we wholeheartedly encourage parents to step into the playtime arena. Whether it’s exploring outer space in our ‘3,2,1
Blast Off!’ exhibit or embarking on a camping adventure at PleasANT Park, there’s a world of fun waiting for both you and your little one. So, why wait? It’s time to play and learn together!
3. Making mistakes is part of the power of play!
We’re here to reassure parents that making mistakes is not just okay – it’s a necessary step toward healthy growth and development. It’s perfectly fine to fumble and accidentally knock things over or get a little messy. It is part of the learning process that makes playtime so vital.
You won’t always need to swoop in when something goes wrong. Imagine your child spills a glass of juice. Your initial instinct might be to rush over and take care of it, maybe even scold them for it. But what if, instead, you exclaimed, “Oh no! What do we do now?” and let your child try to determine how to tackle the situation? They might not make the best decision, but that’s perfectly fine. It’s a chance for them to flex their cognitive muscles. If they choose the wrong course of action, you can always gently guide them toward the right solution, and ask them questions to help them get there. This can help them learn how to ask themselves these questions, to establish a pattern of critical thinking that will aid them throughout life.
At the Discovery Museum, we champion the spirit of experimentation and calculated risk-taking. We want kids to explore the world’s cause-and-effect relationships through the power of play. We even encourage them to get a little messy. They can head behind the museum into our Friendship Field, open during the warm months, and try their hand at our backyard mud kitchen or excavate buried dinosaur bones in our paleontological dig site with actual shovels. Learning through play is all about embracing the adventure, learning from missteps, and discovering the methods of trial and error.
While it’s okay to use digital devices occasionally to entertain your child, it’s important not to make it a routine. Children need a mix of experiences, both in the physical and digital worlds. Being tech-savvy is crucial for the future, but it can’t replace the benefits of hands-on, creative, and sometimes messy play.
When you actively participate in your child’s playtime, you’re fostering their growth in remarkable ways. Your involvement plays a significant role in their social and emotional development too.
What is a magical moment you’ve had as a parent when playing with your child?
For the perfect playtime destination, come explore the Mt. Pleasant Discovery Museum at 5093
E. Remus Rd. in Mt. Pleasant, MI 48858.
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