In 2013 the CHS served over 17,000 school kids and teachers. The school audience makes up a big chunk of the overall audience of the CHS both here at the museum and around the state when our museum educators travel to school for classroom outreach programs. Up to this point, most of the school and teacher audience comes from public schools, with a few independent schools here and there.
Today I’m feeling really excited about reaching out to a new education audience- the home school community. On Wednesday, April 16th CHS will host our first ever Home School Day! Home schooling has been a growing movement across the U.S. in the past decade and Connecticut is no exception. The home school community is today more diverse than ever with home school families cutting across socioeconomic, religious, racial, and ethnic lines. It’s an exciting time in home education and a great opportunity for museums to get more involved.
The home school audience presents a really exciting opportunity for museums to design different types of education programs. In the past, it has been a challenge serving the home school audience with our standard museum programs which are designed in 90 minute blocks for class-sized groups of students in the same grade. For Home School day we decided to offer shorter 45 minute workshops around a variety of different themes. This gives the CHS the chance to try out some new ideas that work well with smaller groups. For example, the education staff is working with the Waterman Research Center staff to develop an Introduction to Family History two-part workshop for home school students ages 13 and older. This is a totally different type of experience than what we currently offer school audiences since the enrollment is limited to six students and provides an intensive experience in the research center.
We are hoping this is the first of many home school events at the CHS and the education staff is looking forward to talking to lots of home school families during this day and collecting information to better shape our programs going forward.
For more information on Home School Day, check out www.chs.org/homeschool for a full workshop schedule, pricing, and registration information.
Emily Dunnack is the Head of Education Programs at the Connecticut Historical Society