When you have a waiting room for your patients, you’re bound to get some children who become bored and rowdy during their wait. While you hope that the parents are able to keep their children calm and entertained, you might not always get your wish, especially if the parent isn’t feeling her best. Plus, it’s hard for parents to lug activities around, yet even if the parent does come prepared, children can become bored with their usual games and toys.
Help out these parents and the rest of your waiting patients by providing some waiting room activities for the children. These activities can also help hold the child’s attention during the parent’s appointment, during a visit at a nursing home or for similar occasions. If you need some ideas for ways to engage children that are simple and convenient, we’re here to help.
Michael Rich, MD, MPH, of Boston Children’s Hospital, says, “I’d recommend low-tech leisure activities that encourage imagination, creativity, and challenge.” This could translate into arts and crafts, games and similar activities. And you don’t necessarily need to rule out technology, as it can be a useful tool to hold a child’s interest as well. See if you can find activities in various formats that are themed around your profession to educate children and get them more comfortable with your health specialty. For instance, add the game Operation to your surgical waiting room. You could mix these healthcare-themed activities in with more common themes.
We collected some children’s activity ideas for you to try in your own office:
Games don’t always have to be of the technological sort. You could go back to long-standing favorites such as board games, puzzles and cards. Also, consider putting out workbooks or copies with word searches, Sudoku, crossword puzzles and similar types of games. You could also provide books or notes that offer suggestions on games kids and parents could play together while they wait, such as finding certain images in magazines or various thinking and observation games. There are also various educational games you could purchase for the office, including Smartmouth, a word game.
Simple Arts and Crafts Activities
Another option is to have creative activities that will engage a child’s interest. However, it’s best to choose activities that are simple to use and easy to clean up and store, so stay away from projects that require a lot of supplies or that make too much of a mess like paints. Think about offering coloring books with a box of crayons, and give the option of drawing pads that allow kids to go outside the lines and be unlimited in their creativity.
Books and children’s magazines are prime props for keeping children busy and quiet while engaging their minds. Choose books on a range of topics and for different age levels and magazines that offer stories, puzzles and other entertainment. When you have a bunch of different choices available, kids will be able to go from one to the next if their focus wanders. Plus, you’ll have enough for several children to use at once.
Technology can provide a convenient option to keep kids occupied while they’re waiting in a variety of locations. Just as we as adults use our smartphones to keep ourselves busy while we’re waiting in line at a store or for an appointment, children can use technology to stay entertained and engaged while waiting. If your office has the budget for it, think about adding some type of technology options to your office. It could be a television with kid’s programs playing, a computer or tablet with limited game and internet options or a video game system. Keep in mind that you can offer educational technology such as video games that teach children lessons.
We hope you have found some ideas to add to your healthcare office to entertain and engage children while they wait. With the variety of options open to you, there is something for every office and every budget. And you can use this as an opportunity to provide education, interaction and creativity to the children visiting your office.