How to improve holidays with children
Beat the boredom: take a kid-friendly tour
Sunday 18 December 2005
Hands up if you've ever traipsed around a gallery with a whinging child or three in tow? I bet you've done it at least once, because you believed (mistakenly) that becoming a parent didn't have to mean giving up ever doing anything interesting.
We all know that children and galleries don't mix. I only have to set foot in one and my little Botticelli cherubs are running ransack, leaving a trail of devastation in their wake. And when they're fed up with doing that, they announce in loud voices to anyone and everyone that they're "bored with a capital B".
So why put myself (and them) through it? Call me old-fashioned, but I still cling to the notion that going on holiday can be about soaking up a bit of culture as well as a lot of sun. Having done some homework, I've discovered that many galleries and museums now offer guided tours specifically for children.
Take your kids to the Louvre and you can book them on one that is tailor-made to meet their needs (00 33 6 73 77 33 52; parismuse.com). This isn't just any old guided tour; your family has its very own English-speaking guide whose "treasure hunt" through the exhibits promises to get your offspring so excited about everything from Egyptian masterpieces to Da Vinci that they won't want to leave.
Children's tours are now features at galleries all over the globe. New York's Museum of Modern Art (00 1 212 708 9400; moma.org) is well known for its host of activities for tiny tearaways, but there are other, lesser-known offerings out there. Edinburgh's Royal Museum of Scotland (0131-247 4422; explore-edinburgh.com) holds kids' tours every weekend.
But my favourite of all is offered at the Tate Modern (020-7887 8008; tate.org.uk), which has a brilliant audio narration by children's author Michael Rosen. It lasts just long enough to give your little treasures a taste of everything from Monet to Munch.
The great thing about these tours is that your children actually learn something. When my elder son's teacher asked if anyone knew who painted the Mona Lisa, he was the only one with his hand up. The fact that he said Leonardo DiCaprio is beside the point - he was half-right, after all. And for now, that's enough to keep me happy - with a capital H.
KATY'S TOP TIP
Look out for 'Where's the ME in Museum: Going to Museums with Children' (Vandamere Press, £15.99), a handy book for culture vultures with kids.
Katy Holland is deputy editor of 'Mother and Baby' and motherandbabymagazine.com. She has written several books on childcare.
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