MANSFIELD – After reopening last month for the first time in a year, Little Buckeye Children’s Museum picked up right where it left off bringing children and parents, both new and returning, together in an environment to learn and develop.
Scott and Kayla Heimann have been members of Little Buckeye since they started taking their oldest son Lincoln, 2, in 2019. When their second child, Jefferson, 11 months old, was born they were excited by the idea of both their children getting to grow up playing at the museum. Unfortunately, due to the pandemic, they had to wait.
As a school teacher, Kayla knows the importance of self-play and children taking the time to use their imagination. At their current ages, her children have a quick rebound rate and short attention span, which makes Little Buckeye the perfect place for them to let out excess energy.
“It's wonderful because they can bounce from activity to activity, and hands-on learning is so critical. They just get to play and it's great,” Kayla said.
The Heimann family visit Little Buckeye almost once a week for an hour and a half and are grateful to have a safe environment to visit in the area.
“I have friends that come from neighboring communities because they don't have anything like [Little Buckeye], so we're really fortunate to have something like it,” Kayla said.
“Since I work downtown it's awfully convenient where we will time it up where Kayla will take the boys down and I'll sneak down during my lunch break just to say hi and play with them a little bit. It's been neat,” Scott said.
When Ohio opened back up after being shut down for a year due to the pandemic, Kayla and Scott were skeptical and concerned about bringing their children anywhere. The staff at Little Buckeye made them feel reassured.
“I've been really impressed with how there's literally somebody coming around and cleaning and picking up while we're there, and that helps make you feel a little bit more at ease,” Kayla said.
David and Alex Yoder are another family who is appreciative of the staff at Little Buckeye’s efforts. As recently signed up members, they wanted to give their 2-year-old daughter Mia a new place to explore and have fun, especially once the winter months roll around.
“When Ohio’s winter kicks in, we notice a decline in Mia's behavior occasionally because she has no outlet to expend that energy,” David said. “So, what Little Buckeye became is a place where she can engage her imagination and expend energy, and we don’t have to rely on as much screentime to keep her entertained, and we really liked that trade-off.”
“This gives her somewhere to get out of the house and just kind of be around other kids, as she's not with anybody when she's mainly home with me. So it's at least getting her out and socializing with other kids,” Alex said.
As a growing family, with a new baby girl on the way in November, one of the things the Yoder’s have been working on recently as parents is being more thoughtful about the toys and screen time they let their child have. With Little Buckeye, they can see the amount of thought put into the museum, making them confident about its expanding future.
Although they’ve only had their membership for a month, the Yoder’s have already become well-known members. Their overall experience at Little Buckeye has them excited and prepared to embrace the new Imagination District once it’s established.
“This new chapter of an Imagination District is really invigorating and exciting to be part of as a young family,” David said. “That's what excites me about being a member of Little Buckeye—is looking ahead to the future. Not only are we having a great time currently, but when you look at everything that's planned with the Imagination District we are so excited to have our little girl be involved in it for the next two decades.”
Learn more about Little Buckeye’s membership by visiting their website.