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Sidebar: Working with Preschoolers in the Museum
Written by Jeri Robinson
Always be at the child's eye level. Remember he is small and to him everything looks much larger, and therefore more frightening. To let him know you care about him, bend down and meet his eyes when talking with him or giving him directions.
Remember that being in the museum itself can intimidate the child unless he feels at home here. When working with a group of children, you can help to reduce their fear by the look in your eyes, an outstretched hand, or the smile in your voice. Be soft-spoken; encourage the child to join the group and to feel welcome in it.
Watch your expressions—children do! If you do not smile or seem happy, the child will notice immediately and respond accordingly.
Remember, the child may be used to non-smiling people, failure, or fear.
He often feels a sense of inadequacy or fright. Erase that sense! Help him to a better self-image by making him feel how pleasant it is to be here. He will use your face as his indicator, so make it a good model.
Involve parents whenever possible. Remember that the parents and child are a unit; therefore, when the preschooler is involved in activities of the space, invite the parents to participate. When appropriate, give them responsibilities.
—Excerpt from Jeri Robinson's first staff guide written in 1975.