As believers in building a robust community, each year we take time to celebrate our community by hosting a Family Day where we invite families from our Smithsonian Early Explorers Program and our Family Workshop Members. These groups vary from the families who see each other everyday as part of the school at the Smithsonian Early Enrichment Center. The idea of gathering this group together and celebrating our personal connections is simple, but frequently overlooked in our busy society. We have found that these Family Day events are one of the best ways to create deeper connections among our families and are crucial to the success of our programs.
One of the key components of our Family Day is to highlight the different museums on the National Mall, which we consider to be vital to how we learn. To do this, we organized playful stations that represent the various places that we visited in the hope that they would spark memories and encourage families to discuss their past experiences. For example, we taped bear prints to the ground and added bamboo block to represent the time the class visited the Smithsonian National Zoo and learned about bears. We also put out a toy train set to represent “America on the Move” at National Museum of American History, which is a favorite exhibition.
In addition to carefully curating stations that were meant to spark reflections, we encourage causal discussions by having a calm and relaxed atmosphere. We have child-friendly snacks for families to eat and as families ate their snacks they naturally engaged in conversations. Throughout our Family Day, caregivers were able to build deep connections while discussing their families and their hopes, fears, and excitement about the upcoming year. In order to thrive, families need the opportunity to have these types of discussions with each other.
Raising young children can be challenging and having a supportive community can help ease these stresses. Over the years, the way we think and define community has shifted and changed, and these changes do not always benefit the family. With this in mind, we take the time and effort to create a space where caregivers and families of all types can come together and feel supported by each other.
These family events take time and effort to plan but are well worth it! Community is one of the cornerstones of our programs and we know that communities need to be nurtured in order to grow. Family Day celebrations are one of the many ways that we try to foster a special and unique community and we are so excited that this Family Day was a success. We are already looking forward to future Family Day celebrations!