Explore and More Children’s Museum, in Buffalo’s Canalside neighborhood, is hosting its Study and Play program to allow kids a chance to do their schoolwork and then enjoy some safe, distanced play within the facility.
The Study and Play program offers full-day or half-day time slots, and is open to children in Grades 1 through 4.
As many continue to live with work-at-home or remote learning, museum administrators say the program will offer a nurturing learning environment for the kids and some relief for their working parents.
“Once they see their kids go through it, they love it," said Michelle Urbanczyk, Explore & More's chief executive officer. "Then, I think, they have that sense of 'oh my goodness, I can schedule all my meetings on this day, because I know my children are not going to interrupt me every three minutes.' It helps with parents who are working from home on the broadband, because you know if you have two other students, and you tried to work from home, it's becoming increasingly impossible.”
WiFi will be available to help participating students connect with their respective schools. Will Kawalec, an educator at Explore & More, says their clients include students whose first Zoom sessions of the day begin at 8:30 a.m. They're made ready to go before then.
"They're in the door around 8:15, and we get them set up and ready to go right at that time, and assist with any sort of technological needs and everything," he said. "We have WiFi access here. On the kids’ first day, we set them up on our network, and then after that it's really easy going forward.”
There will also be time set aside to let children enjoy free play throughout the museum. Urbanczyk noted that the museum was originally built with constant cleaning in mind, knowing children's love of hands-on play. Safety procedures will be in place in light of the ongoing pandemic.
Spaces day to day are limited. Program costs begin at $30 but Urbanczyk says a scholarship is available to families who may need help affording it.
“When we say ‘scholarships available,’ people always think they have to be really destitute, and that's not really true," she said. "We really don't want to turn any kid away or any family away, who thinks, ‘oh my gosh I'd love to do this but I have two kids and this is not affordable for me at this time.’ We're turning nobody away.”