There are many self-help skills for preschoolers, and we are working on many at home. In fact, for all of my wee ones. The one that is the focus of most of my attention right now is teaching Sammy to get himself dressed. Getting dressed was not really an issue for Madeline. She picked it up quickly and easily – occasionally shoes on the wrong feet, but honestly not a skill I needed to put too much thought into.
Well, all wee ones are different! One of the self-help skills for preschoolers that my Sammy has had very little interest in is getting dressed. Therefore, for the first time I have had to put some thought into how to teach wee ones about getting dressed. I would really love some advice from Mama’s who have had the same challenges.
The 3 most helpful strategies I have found as of yet are:
1. Have clothing choices on an open shelf.
We have these great open shelves at the end of each closet. I can’t take any credit – they were there when we moved in. But I love them. They are great for so many things – but right now I am loving them for storing Sammy’s clothing choices. I put out 2 or 3 pants, underwear, shirts, etc. on the shelf and Sammy can choose (easily) whatever he would like to wear. He is not overwhelmed by choices, and he always chooses proper clothing for the weather. So at least we have the choosing part under control!
2. Have sweatshirts or coats hanging within easy reach.
With this Fall weather we have been needing sweatshirts sometimes – inside and outside (as I love my windows open!). We have a hook at Sammy’s eye level in his bedroom with one or two zip sweatshirts hanging within easy reach. He is then able to easily get the sweatshirt when asked, or when he would like it. And put it away as well … ahem.
3. Have ‘easy to put on’ shoes or boots marked for the right feet.
As a Kindergarten teacher, if I am being completely honest, I will sometimes look at a pair of little shoes and shudder. Lost shoes, wrong feet, and feet that have grown throughout the day! (Funny story – in no way related, so please feel free to skip. When I was teaching Kindergarten, a little girl was putting on her winter boots to go home. She was the last one to leave and having a terrible time getting them on. I was trying to help, but the boots where clearly far too small. I knew they were her boots, and I saw her wear them outside for recess that same day. There was no way those boots were getting on her feet! I was thoroughly puzzled until she told me “*Emily* was wrong, her boots are not exactly the same as mine.” She had switched boots with another Kindergartner – same boots different size. Yes – I do dread winter boots!) Sorry – back to #3! We wrote the letter ‘s’ on the inside of Sammy’s shoes to help him remember which shoe went on which foot. He knows the ‘S’s have to kiss. We also have a very simple pair of slip on shoes for him to wear – which he can easily do independently.
I am definitely seeing progress and some independence emerging in getting himself dressed, but this is an area we will definitely be continuing to work on. Self-help skills for preschoolers are very unique to each child. Where one child struggles, another thrives – even in the same family!
Do you have any suggestions or advice on what has helped your wee ones with getting dressed?
Mildred Noftle says
Smiling here.. Yes that is an interesting and a funny story about the wrong size shoes, but I can see that happening.
But I’m sure Sammy will master it all in time, I can see he would not be too interested in what he wears and when right now. Great ideas though.. like the open shelves Idea.
Lynne Burgess says
When I taught Grade one ( many moons ago ), I had43 children in my classroom by myself. When I think of it now, I wonder how I ever survived ! Winter was the worst, as you can imagine. It would seem like we would just get out for five minutes, and it would be time to go back inside !
Your ideas of the baskets and lower pegs are a great idea. Also, marking left & right shoes.
I can’t think of anything to add off hand. Great ideas !
Eileen Ford says
How often do we hear it, see it written in school information and then just completely forget to do it? Yes. Put your child’s name in their clothing, shoes, coats…Everything!!!
I have had so very many experiences with children having the exact same boots, shoes and coats.. even the same size and not a single child has a name marked. We’ve had boys whose moms had to work out a system for when they wore each others boots home! This year I have watched an upstairs classroom have a single jacket float home to 3 different children! No name in it of course and the 3 and 4 year olds had no idea it wasn’t their coat. As a mom, we get a bit touchy about this happening – after all we spent the money on this quality coat. But as a teacher, sometimes this just happens. Many children have many different varieties of outfits. It is how society is now.
Another point I would like to add. Once your child is beginning to zipper, have her try on the coat, sweatshirt, jacket, etc., BEFORE you purchase. Let them attempt the zipper in the store (or even the resale shop). If it sticks or catches the material it is not worth the extreme discount!!! She will not be able to be successful in her independence. He will always need an adult to fix it. This makes your child take a step backwards in self-care skills. Last year I had a parent & the nanny so disappointed in the high quality brand new coat because the little guy could simply not zip it. As a matter of fact the nanny & I could rarely force the zipper. The end result was the nanny would arrive to car line at the end of the day with the car super heated & remove the unzipped jacket immediately.
Teaching children to put on their jackets and coats:
1. As much as possible, provide them with a jacket, coat or sweatshirt with a hood, and a zipper. (some snaps can challenge the fine motor muscle control when it is a bulky jacket – so start with snaps on thinner material like shirts first)
2. Teach the child to turn sleeves ‘right side out’
3. Hang the hood of open coat on their head. Then tell them to bring the collar up with one hand (kind of like a cape if you need to encourage some).
4. The child should then be able to put one arm in while holding the collar area of coat. The second arm should go in rather easily after that. Each child is different though – some will swing in circles. Have him stop and reach across the front of his body again for the collar 😉
I have found this technique to be very successful. In addition it will work in public and small contained spaces with many children crowded together.
Some wonderful tips – thank you Eileen! I love the idea of the superman cape coat! I had never thought of that – but I bet it works great! We always do the flip over – but that doesn’t work well in busy spaces. Thank you for sharing!