Family Learning Forum

A Project of the USS Constitution Museum

Understanding Today’s Families

by USS Constitution Museum Team

Generation X parents & families:

Seventy-five percent of today’s elementary school children have parents born between 1965 and 1979: the post-baby boomers. The defining traits of this generation include:

  • Increased commitment to family
  • Seeking opportunities for actively engaged family time
  • Making financial trade-offs to create time for family
  • Increased educational levels for both parents

When museums craft exhibits to encourage family participation and intergenerational learning, they better meet the needs of today’s families.

A challenge for history museums

History museums are the least popular type of museum for families with young children. For families, the age of the oldest child is the principal factor in choosing what type of museum to visit. As children enter elementary school and begin learning about history, the likelihood of visiting a historic site or history museum increases. Grandparents are nearly 20% more likely to bring children to a history museum, so there is an opportunity for targeted promotions to encourage intergenerational activities at history museums.

The importance of creating an authentic, hands-on, active experience for families is especially powerful at historic sites “where history really happened.” History museums can engage the public in real experiences that illuminate the past in ways that many other museums cannot.

 

Footnotes:

Research by Reach Advisors published in Museum NewsNovember/December 2005

Survey of 3020 parents nationwide were summarized in the 2004 report Generation X Parents: From Grunge to Grown-Up.

Read the findings of the research sited above at:
http://reachadvisors.typepad.com/museum_audience_insight/2007/10/august-e-news-f.html