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10 Teachable Moments at the Doctor's Office

Find the educational opportunities that a routine checkup offers.
 

Learning Benefits

Hover over each Learning Benefit below for a detailed explanation.
Cognitive Skills
Literacy
  1. Pick up a magazine. One of the first things you'll see in a waiting room is an array of magazines covering any subject you could imagine. Point out appealing titles that may strike your child's interest — reading practice is always worthwhile.
  2. Learn Latin roots. How do doctors in specific fields get those long names, like "pediatrician" or "optometrist"? Most of them come from Latin roots. A great deal of English vocabulary stems from these roots, so learning them will help your child identify and decipher unfamiliar words in the future.
  3. Tick-tock, watch the clock. They don't call it a "waiting room" for nothing! So practice telling time with your child. Teach him different ways to read the clock, such as "It's a quarter after one" instead of "It's one-fifteen."
  4. Calculate tooth-fairy totals. On a visit to the dentist, play math games to project how much money the tooth fairy will bring your child.
  5. Introduce oral hygiene. What better time to explain why cavities and plaque are bad? Be sure to stress how your child can prevent them by brushing, flossing, and cutting down on sweets.
  6. Wash your hands! A trip to the doctor's office is a good reminder about the importance of hand washing. Enlist your physician's help to emphasize the importance of cleanliness and explain how germs spread.
  7. Brainstorm exercise ideas. Ask your child to come up with a list of energetic activities he enjoys, such as playing soccer, jumping rope, riding his bike, etc.
  8. Identify parts of the body. Ask, "What feels bad?" or "Point to what hurts," so she can describe to you what's wrong. For your older child, play brainteaser games like naming all the body parts that have only three letters (eye, ear, toe, gum, lip, etc.).
  9. What is 20/20 vision? During a visit to the optometrist, your curious child can ask questions about 20/20 vision, why his eyesight is blurry, or what the difference is between nearsighted and farsighted.
  10. Play I Spy. After your child's vision is corrected, celebrate her clear eyesight with a game of "I spy with my little eye . . ." She'll build observation skills and learn how to verbalize descriptions of the objects she "spies."

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