Kohl Children's Museum: Early Childhood Connections

Early Childhood Connections

Did you know that:

  • Kohl Children’s Museum is a 501(c)3 nonprofit organization?
  • Membership and admission fees together cover less than half of the cost of running the Museum?
  • It is part of the Museum’s vision statement to provide experiences that will inspire every child?

Many members and regular guests are intimately familiar with what goes on at Kohl — the engaging exhibits, educational programs, and playful atmosphere — but far fewer know exactly how the Museum reaches out to communities nearby that are in greatest need of inspiration. Examine just a few of the Museum’s outreach programs, all supported by generous contributions from local corporations, foundations, and most importantly, individuals like you.

Everyone at Play (Special Needs)

Kohl Children's Museum: Everyone at Play

All exhibits and outdoor exploration spaces have been created using principles of universal design to be inclusive of children and adults will any level of physical, cognitive, and social-emotional ability. Our “Everyone at Play” program opens the Museum doors six times every year for the exclusive use of families with special needs. The program offers a dedicated time when these families can enjoy the exhibits and programs in an atmosphere that is less crowded, more relaxed, and more conducive to each child’s individualized needs. This, in turn, allows for children and families with myriad daily challenges to be delighted and inspired as their imaginations and curiosities are ignited. These events also provide unique opportunities for children with special needs and their typically-developing siblings to play in a shared environment of experimentation and discovery. Every child should feel welcomed to learn. 

Play Attention (Military and Veteran Families)

Kohl Children's Museum: Play Attention

“Play Attention” is a new program that serves military and veteran families, and plays a part in the readjustment and reconnection process for families with long parental absences due to deployment. The Museum provides therapeutic hospitality through exclusive, family-centered events that offer an opportunity for calm, collaborative play in a safe, accessible environment that children and their military or veteran caregivers can enjoy alongside other veteran families.

Therapist Natalie Frame, from Thresholds, one of the Museum’s partner organizations for “Play Attention,” notes, “From the point of view of a mental health professional, there are few things in life so healing for the mind and spirit as time spent in enjoyment of family. There is no doubt in our minds that ‘Play Attention’ is a means to healing the invisible wounds of war and the undetected wounds of separation. ‘Play Attention’ creates a place for the wholesome restoration of souls.”

Baby and Me Time (Parents with Newborns)

“Baby and Me,” a program now in its second successful year, creates a welcoming and affirming space for new parents to learn just how to be a family. Free for all participants every Monday from 9:30-11 a.m., the program creates a forum and support group for parents with newborns to meet with others who are navigating the same issues that arise with infants and adjusting to the powerful presence of a newborn in their homes. A nurse representative from our partners at Advocate Lutheran General Hospital is on hand during each session to answer questions, offer expert advice, and facilitate discussions on early childhood development and parenting topics.

Early Childhood Connections (Classrooms in Low-Income Areas)

Now in its 16th year, the Museum’s flagship outreach program connects children and educators in underserved areas with the Museum’s proven educational methods. ECC provides educators, both in schools and childcare centers, with free professional development training in the Project Approach to Learning. Bolstering the training with Museum field trips, classroom resources, and family activities designed to engage parents in their children’s education, ECC is a recognized model of success. More than a decade of evaluation has shown that the program produces statistically significant positive changes in the use of developmentally appropriate methods and strategies by early childhood educators. The result? Systemic, sustainable, high-quality educational achievement in communities that will prosper most from the Museum’s engagement.

All Museum programs depend on your donations, so please consider giving a gift today.