The A.C. Kiefer Educational Center is a 4K and early childhood center that supports families and enhances development of 3- to 5-year-old children and takes family field trips in the Wausau community to model teaching skills for parents and ways to integrate classroom curriculum into daily life. Each month, A.C. Kiefer teachers Lori Kurszewski and Maria Hachfeld invite early childhood students and their families to join them in visiting sites such as the Woodson Art Museum.
Tuesday, students and families met and interacted in Art Park, the Museum’s interactive family gallery, and experienced hands-on artmaking activities – painting with ice cubes and tempera powdered paint and more. The A.C. Kiefer teachers used this time to build language from the curriculum and demonstrate ways parents can teach children in various settings. Art Park, books, building blocks, and puppets were used to describe birds and colors, ways to engage children. Teachers also modeled communication skills during conversations with children and parents.
An important aspect of meeting at community locations, Lori explains, is to provide group time for people with similar needs. Navigating public spaces as a group breaks down perceived barriers and transforms seclusion into inclusion – being a member of a community and being welcomed and accepted as an individual.
As a museum educator, I have enjoyed meeting the A.C. Kiefer students, families, and teachers. It’s always exciting to meet first-time visitors who “didn’t know we existed” or weren’t even aware that the Woodson Art Museum “allowed children.” These participants learn that we love children and visitors of all ages. I look forward to greeting these families as return visitors; they affirm that the Woodson Art Museum fosters an atmosphere of sensitivity, understanding, and acceptance.