This week I want to share I project I worked on for myself, because while I was making it I thought it would be a great project for kids in the hospital too! Kids and families are constantly getting interrupted when staying at the hospital. Some of these interruptions are important and can’t wait, while others can be saved for a later, more opportune time. With this in mind I thought it would be helpful if kids could create their own door hangers letting staff know what might be happening in their hospital room. So how does this relate to child life?
Two big things that child life specialists advocate for in the hospital are choices and schedules. By giving children appropriate choices we are helping them gain control over themselves and their situation. And when you keep a schedule for kids in the hospital, they know what to expect and when, decreasing unwelcome surprises and encouraging a more normal day. Child life specialists have lots of techniques to achieve these goals (especially since every child is different and one size does not fit all!) and this is another one to add to the toolbox!
By allowing children the chance to create their own door hanger, you are letting them have some control. They get to decide what are important things staff should know before entering the room. For example, the child can decide that when possible they would rather not be disturbed if she is sleeping. So she can create a door hanger that says she is sleeping and hang it up at the appropriate times. Or maybe a child wants people to know when he wants to play with staff, so he can make a door hanger that expresses that interest. In addition the hanger can be used to emphasize a schedule. Little Johnny needs to be put on a schedule that includes a nap, so between 2PM and 3PM Johnny’s “sleeping” door hanger is placed. Suzy on the other hand needs more playtime, so between 10AM and 11AM her “play with me” door hanger is placed. Now everyone who interacts with these children has a better idea of their schedule and their needs.
So, are you ready to make one of these? First get some paper or cardboard (it’s up to you want it looks like) and cut out a rectangle. At one end of the rectangle, cut a line and then a circle. Then get creative and make your sign! If you want you can do a two-sided sign so it has two uses. Here’s my example:
What do you think? Try it out and have fun!
Hospital Door Hanger Activity Notes
Ages: 3 and up
Materials: paper, crayons, markers, paints, and scissors