The past year continued to present major challenges for society, the Museum, and especially children. Numerous studies have shown children have fallen behind academically, suffered in terms of their mental and physical health, and stagnated or regressed in their social and emotional development. Nationwide, pre-K enrollment dropped precipitously, childcare was disrupted, and parents adjusted to a new normal of juggling work from home while their children had limited opportunities for social interaction and education. In addition, for many families the pandemic created financial stress due to loss of employment or health challenges. Surveys of parents have indicated they are understandably concerned about their children’s wellbeing during this extraordinary time.
In spite of the many challenges and concerns, the Museum has been heartened by the resilience and joy it has seen from children during the last year when they were provided with opportunities for in-person play and discovery.
Recognizing families’ strong desire for in-person and social interaction, the Museum sought new and creative solutions. Major undertakings, detailed further in this report, included the launch of the “Summer of Play” campaign to emphasize how important it was to recover the sense of joy and wonder that comes with play and in-person interaction, and creation of first-time Museum events April Adventure Week, and Explore It Summer Camp. In addition to these in-Museum programs, Museum staff created new programs for young children addressing the development of fine motor skills, Tools for Tiny Hands, and social-emotional learning, Me, You, We; piloted a new program, Everyone Explores, for children with special and medical needs who cannot visit the Museum; restarted its cherished in-person Morningstar Access program for children with special and medical needs; published new episodes of its Big & Little podcast addressing relevant topics for families; and continued to provide hundreds of online play and learning activities for families to use at home.
We have seen families and kids “bouncing back” when provided with opportunities to play, discover, share, and create. We are grateful for the opportunity to contribute to the health, wellbeing, and joy of the families of Greater Boston and beyond as we seek to recover the spirit and wonder that come from in-person play and learning.
Bouncing Back: Boston Children’s Museum’s Annual Meeting 2021
Listen in on Boston Children’s Museum’s 108th annual meeting, themed “Kids and Covid: Bouncing Back—Engaging and supporting our kids in challenging times.”
The meeting featured an illuminating conversation led by keynote speaker Dr. Khadijah Booth Watkins, MD, MPH, on the mental health challenges of our children in this new world of Covid, a world that has disrupted their lives in so many ways.
Dr. Khadijah Booth Watkins is the Associate Director of the Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds at Massachusetts General Hospital and the Associate Director of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry Residency Training Program at Massachusetts General Hospital and McLean Hospital. She specializes in the evaluation, diagnosis, and treatment of psychiatric disorders in children, adolescents, and adults.
The Clay Center for Young Healthy Minds: https://www.mghclaycenter.org
Making Caring Common Project: https://mcc.gse.harvard.edu
Center on the Developing Child: https://developingchild.harvard.edu