Now more than ever, we are focused on staying healthy this new year! While it may be easy for us adults to understand our health, our children might not always understand why it’s important to take care of our bodies and go to the doctor regularly. One easy way to help our children understand why our health is essential is through pretend play. Here you’re going to learn how to use pretend play to expand your child’s understanding of new “health-related” vocabulary words and why it’s important to stay healthy….all while role-playing and having tons of fun of course!

Why is pretend play important?

Pretend play is an essential part of childhood as it is truly the way that children learn best. Through pretend play children are allowed to work through things they are experiencing in real life. They learn to problem-solve, perspective, negotiate, and more.

What can we use to work on health-related pretend play at home?

What child doesn’t love to play dress-up and pretend they can be anything? One of our favorite ways to discuss and talk about going to the doctor and staying healthy is through dress-up, and these products from Learning Resources make it so much fun:

By role-playing going to the doctor, your child will learn new health-related vocabulary, the sequence of events at the doctor’s office, and build their understanding of why going to the doctor is so important. Start off by pretending that you are the doctor, and your child, a stuffed animal or doll is the patient. Model new vocabulary words, such as a doctor, temperature, thermometer, band-aid, coat, blood pressure, shot, medicine, etc. while you are playing and your child is taking it all in! Then give your child a turn. They can pretend you’re the patient at first, and eventually, they’ll be playing doctor with their babies or stuffed animals all on their own.

What else can you do to promote a healthy new year?

Read books about your body or going to the doctor with your child. This will help your child get even more familiar with health-related vocabulary.

Stress the importance of washing hands regularly. Add a tune to make it fun! Need a tune to sing? Try singing, “Wash, wash, wash your hands, wash them every day. Wash, wash, wash your hands, all the germs away!” to the tune of “Row, Row, Row Your Boat.”

Talk about upcoming doctor’s appointments beforehand. When children know what to expect, they are able to better understand and accept what is happening. An unexpected doctor’s appointment can be scary, especially when a child doesn’t know what the doctor is going to do! By discussing it beforehand, you will take the mystery out of the experience for your child, making it a much less stressful experience!