Call your grandpa, call your kids, call your friends and family of all ages – September is Intergeneration Month! It’s a month that honors and promotes shared experiences across generations. Want to celebrate? Simply gather a group of varying ages and head to your local nature center, museum, or park!
These sites are among the best venues for bringing together multiple generations of people in a shared experience – old and young, children and adults, all learning together. How fondly I remember trips to the museum with my parents, and with chaperones that included the grandparents of my friends. How dearly I enjoy seeing three or four generations of a single family spending a beautiful day at the local nature center. Seeing the shared smiles – and the shared engagement – reminds me how truly invaluable these experiences are.
So what is the overall message for museums, nature centers, historic venues, and other interpretive sites? Create experiences that can be shared across the age divide. Here are some helpful tips for creating such rich intergenerational experiences:
- Design exhibits that truly engage multiple ages and learning levels. Do not be one of those nature centers that only focuses on school groups and children’s summer camps. Similarly, do not be one of those erudite museums that fails to reach younger, less expert audiences.
- Create interactives that engage both young and old in a shared experience. Do not simply create one interactive for children, and a separate interactive for adults. The best experiences are shared. Create hands-on exhibits that force adults and children to engage in a simultaneous, coordinated, cooperative learning experience.
- Host programs and events geared especially toward families. Hold programs on Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, and National Grandparents Day – which just happens to fall in September!
- Create exhibits and programs that encourage conversation and dialog. Get mom, dad, grandma, grandpa, and the youngsters talking to one another as they explore your space!
- If you are a nature center or park, have trails that are wheelchair and walker accessible, like the Easy Access Trail at Iowa’s Lime Creek Nature Center. Seniors should have every opportunity to explore the outdoors with their children and grandchildren.
- Have special Family Days. Provide family discounts. Do everything you can to attract families to your site.
Any more ideas? What has your site done to create intergenerational experiences? Let us know in the comments section below!