Our bodies require a lot of upkeep. From showering to dressing to the nightly before-bed routine, there’s a lot to do each day.
A young child learns about these “Care of Self” tasks through watching family members, receiving guidance from loved ones, and in the Montessori classroom, through deliberate practice!
Here are a few ways you can make “Care of Self” tasks more deliberate and available in your child’s home environment:
Especially for children with long hair or sensitive scalps, brushing ones hair can be a painful process. Here’s how to give your child autonomy over this “Care of Self” task:
Materials: Soft hair brush, low mirror on wall or hand-held mirror, tray to carry hairbrush and any clips or bands
Task: Once you have the brush and mirror available to your child at all times rather than tucked away in a drawer or high shelf, he or she can practice brushing their hair whenever they like! Invite your child to sit down near the mirror and watch themselves as they tidy their hair and appearance. Remark on the process, not the product! “I see you are combing your hair! What do you think?”
Of course, young children might need help getting their hands very clean, but the more practice your child gets early on will help them become master hand-washers at a younger age.
Materials: Bar or liquid soap, hand towel
Task: Make sure your child can reach a sink comfortably using a step stool, or, provide a basin of water on a low table specifically for this task. Invite your child to rub the soap between their hands until they see bubbles, and remember to get not only the fingers but the entire hand to the wrist! Singing “Happy Birthday” while you scrub helps ensure you’ve scrubbed long enough. Lastly, let the clean water wash away the soap, and dry with the nearby towel!
“Care of Self” extends to getting oneself dressed and undressed, and you can help your child be independently successful at doing both! Try these steps:
Materials: Low hooks or drawers for clothing, reminders about where certain pieces of clothing belong.
Task: A young child can get overwhelmed by MANY tasks at one time, so take things step by step. First, we put on our undergarments. Next, a shirt. Finally, pants and socks (or whatever order you prefer). Sit with your child to help guide the steps, but try not to interfere too much. A simple, “I see you!” can be enough to keep your child from getting frustrated or discouraged.
All of these “Care of Self” tasks can be real skill-builders for your young child. Hair brushing is also building hand-eye coordination, and getting dressed independently builds balance and hand strength! Your child will love the added responsibilities, not to mention the freedom they gain from doing things by themselves.
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