A trip to the doctor can be super stressful for preschool age children. Most of the fear comes from not knowing what’s going to happen, and anticipating that whatever happens, it will probably hurt. Many of your children’s fears can be eased by playing a doctor game. Preschool fears about the doctor are not anything new, but perhaps some of these ideas can put a new spin on an old favorite dramatic play activity.
If you have chosen to plan a theme week focusing on doctors, why not turn your entire dramatic play area into a doctor’s office or hospital? Men’s white dress shirts can be cut to make appropriate doctor’s lab coats. Be sure to provide enough, because these are sure to be a high-demand item in your dress-up trunk. Other doctor ideas to include in your dress-up area:
- face masks
- head covers
- shoe covers
- blood pressure cuff
- hospital gowns for the patients
- glasses frames
Turning your entire dramatic play area into a doctor’s office or hospital will take a bit of planning, but it will be relatively easy. Be sure to include a reception area with chairs and magazines, as well as a sign-in pad. Square post-it notepads can be used as prescription pads. Make sure there are several stuffed animals and baby dolls in the area, as most children will choose to be doctors, not patients, when they choose to play here. You can also include a scale, a height chart, and an eye chart.
When introducing a doctor theme to your preschool classroom, it is also possible to expand your science curriculum. Putting up posters of the skeletal system or muscular system, you will pique the children’s curiosity about what makes the human body tick. Using a stethoscope, which you can easily buy online or at many neighborhood drugstores, have the children listen to each other’s heartbeats and then their own. Have them compare what they hear. Is there heartbeat faster or slower than their friends? Have the children rest and try again. Is their heartbeat slower or faster than before? Try listening again after a few jumping jacks. What happens then? Explain that the doctor listens to their heartbeat at every doctor visit, just like they are listening now.
There are many children’s books available to ease the fear of going to the doctor. Some favorites include:
- Froggy Goes To The Doctor by Jonathan London
- Going To The Doctor by Ann Civardi
- The Berenstein Bears Go To The Doctor by Stan and Jan Berenstein
- I Want To Be A Doctor by Dan Liebman
- Inside Your Outside: All About the Human Body by Tish Rabe
- Corduroy Goes To The Doctor by Don Freeman
Try playing a game of "Five Little Monkeys Jumping On The Bed" when discussing doctors with your preschoolers. This game can be used to open a discussion that doctors are important in keeping children healthy and safe. Make visits to the doctor a little less scary by playing a doctor game. Preschool children deal with difficult situations by playing, and introducing doctor visits in a fun way will help them handle their fears.