Why Play Is Important
Playful learning is fun – and it’s powerful. Play may seem simple, yet it is profound to a child’s development. Play makes learning happen naturally and joyfully.
A child learns when he laughs and wonders, explores and imagines.
Pretend City Children’s Museum is committed to serving the needs and interests of children by providing exhibits and programs that stimulate curiosity and motivate learning.
Reaching Milestones, One Child at a Time
Since opening in 2009, Pretend City has
- • Served over 1 Million visitors
- • Provided free or reduced cost field trips for more than 66,000
- • Completed more than 6,100 health screenings
- • Hosted more than 7,600 people in our free autism programs
- • Distributed more than 29,000 Ages and Stages Questionnaires (ASQ’s) developmental health screenings.
Field trips are recognized as important moments in learning; a shared social experience that provides the opportunity for students to encounter and explore novel things in an authentic setting. Their importance is supported by professional organizations such as the National Science Teachers Association which asserts field trips can “deepen and enhance” classroom study (NSTA 1999) and the National Research Council who assert a quality science curriculum is one that extends beyond the walls of the classroom (1996).
The Association of Children’s Museum validates that:
Children’s museums help children develop essential foundational skills.
In the past ten years, neuroscience has confirmed what the social sciences have long contended, that the first years of life are essential to future learning. Children’s museums are leading a movement to combines specific learning objectives with play in informal learning environments that are developmentally appropriate for infants, toddlers and children. Pretend City is a safe, inspiring, stimulating and centrally located facility that all children of our community can benefit from and be challenged by.
Children’s museums respect childhood.
Helping to balance widespread cultural influences that compress childhood, children’s museums produce programs and exhibits that transcend age, IQ and experience, and empower children to set their own pace. Pretend City’s exhibits and programs are targeted to engage children from early infancy through age eight.
Children’s museums light a creative spark for discovery and lifelong learning.
At children’s museums, kids become excited about what they are learning while they are playing. As multidisciplinary institutions, children’s museums are defining how to teach the arts, humanities, sciences, mathematics and culture across generations.
Children’s museums are environments where families play and connect in meaningful ways.
With today’s workplace demands, adults have less time to spend with children. Children’s museums are places away from work and household distractions, where parents and caregivers can spend quality time with children, learn something new themselves and experience the luxury of becoming lost in the present moment as they play.
Children’s museums are uniquely positioned to help reverse stigma and discrimination.
Children’s museums are popular, yet neutral, sources of information, attract a diverse cross-section of people and provide shared experiences through interpretive and interactive exhibits. By exposing adults and children to unfamiliar concepts in a non-threatening, hands-on approach, and ensuring that the museum experience is accessible to those of differing abilities and backgrounds, children’s museums create bridges of understanding. The “Our Home” exhibit at Pretend City is an example where families can learn in a hands on way about the diverse ways families are different and the same. Three times a year a new family is highlighted in the exhibit, showcasing the broad diversity of our county.
Children’s museums strengthen community resources that educate and care for children.
Children’s museum art, science, math, music, literacy and other exhibits and programs for children are valuable resources, especially in communities where such programs have been reduced or completely eliminated from schools and libraries due to budget constraints. Additionally, children’s museums hold workshops about informal learning for parents, teachers and childcare professionals. As a community based organization in Orange County, Pretend City partners with other resources to provide services, education, and referrals to the families we serve.