Now that Alec, my son and kid assistant, and I are back in the UK, we'll be reporting on our visits to museums and historic sites. This morning, we went to the historically-named Wat Tyler Country Park, so called in honor of the leader of the fourteenth-century Peasants' Revolt. Our visit was not history-themed, however, but rather to attend a kids' workshop on pond life.
I'm writing about it because the key to its success was the same as for historical events for kids: Knowledgeable, friendly and enthusiastic staff.
Despite jet lag, Alec thoroughly enjoyed himself at a workshop which was directed by a man who connected well with kids and knows his subject--in this case, bugs and all manner of other things that dwell in an English pond. The five kids in attendance were issued with fishing nets, and trays filled with water into which they could dump their catches for closer examination.
The man in charge answered questions well, but also knew when to stop talking and allow the kids to catch more critters. He also clearly enjoyed his subject: When one kid caught a giant silver diving beetle, the instructor and an excited colleague enthused over it with sincerity. Kids know when adults are real, and when they are faking. These guys were enthusiastic, and their enthusiasm was inspiring. The cost? A few cheap nets and plastic trays. That's all the technology you need when you have good people.
I look forward to sharing our adventures in homeschooling and museum visits live from England over the next weeks.