Friday, April 24, 2009

Discover DCM - Training for Staff and Volunteers

Well-trained and easily recognizable staff and volunteers are vital to DuPage Children's Museum (DCM) daily visitor experiences. You will recognize staff or volunteers at DCM by their name badges (office and program staff) or blue aprons (facilitator and studio staff). All regularly scheduled staff and volunteers are required to attend a two-hour interactive workshop, Discover DCM, Where Play and Learning Meet.

This picture shows staff and volunteers playing with "The Thing Museum" in a typical introductory training session, where workshop participants are asked to choose an item from one of the baskets. After some brief play time with their chosen item, they are asked why they chose what they did and what they discovered. Through this play time participants discover a lot about play and how their responses relate to children's play and learning at DCM.

Their answers are often the same as what we observe from our young visitors at DCM:

I played with this as a child........ Children often choose what’s familiar. The simplicity of our materials - balls, water, bubbles, lights, etc. - naturally invites children to play with something that is familiar, which leads to new learning discoveries!

I didn’t know what it was at first; then I disovered what to do with it .........Watch for those surprises or “aha” moments with children. Children will manipulate, explore, challenge and invent creative solutions if given the opportunity! They learn new and different ways to solve problems and discover that they are competent problem solvers!

It looked like fun............... Children discover and learn often when they are having fun! Learning is not the goal, but learning happens anyway!

I really wanted what she picked ...............The ability to share takes a long time to develop. The habit of sharing is dependent upon three considerations - maturation, the number of supplies available and adult involvement. DCM ensures plenty of supplies. Staff are trained to recognize the developmental process of sharing and use their facilitation techniques to model caring words and facilitate without judgement.

Stay tuned! In a future post we will share more tips and techniques from some of our other workshops.

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