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This qualitative study examines the potential of museum visits in achieving learning goals of Early Childhood Education and Care as listed in the Irish ECEC Curriculum Framework Aistear. Data obtained through interviewing professionals of both ECEC and museum education sector has been compared and confronted with the literature available. The study focuses on three main areas.
Firstly, it looks at the learning goals listed in Aistear and attempts to link them with the potential outcomes of children’s museum visits. The interviewees were asked to recognise and comment on learning experience that ECEC groups participate in during an outing to a museum. The study shows that a multitude of the Aistear learning goals can be obtained within a single trip to a museum.
Secondly, opportunities and challenges of children’s museum visits in Ireland are being looked at. The participants of the study were sharing their experience, both positive and discouraging, as well as they were attempting to objectively analyse current state of relations between the two sectors. Stereotypical thinking about the facilities available and museums’ age appropriateness proved to be present among some of the respondents. It has been concluded that more efficient communication need to be established between ECEC settings and Irish museums.
Finally, the study suggests after the interviewees several ways of increasing the quantity and improving the quality of ECEC museum visits. Recommendations for facilitating cooperation were given by representatives of both professions. They include both structural and policy changes as well as improvement of communication channels that may lead to a better understanding of the needs of young children across the two sectors.
The result of this study is intended to serve as a foundation for further research in the area of ECEC museum education in Ireland.
Ćwidak, Anna: Children Museum Experience: Exploratory Study of Potential of Museum Visits in Achieving Learning Goals of Irish ECEC Curriculum Framework Aistear. Dublin, DIT, 2012.