Montessori at Home: How Allowing a Child to Dress Themselves Promotes Independence

Many parents ask how they can incorporate Montessori lessons or teachings at home. Whether your child is in a Montessori school or not, children can benefit greatly from Montessori at home lessons.

One of the most natural things you can do to help embrace Montessori at home is to allow your child to dress themselves. Maybe you’re thinking, they’re too young, they can’t possibly do it all by themselves, you may be right or you may also be pleasantly surprised by how much of it they can do on their own.

Allowing children to choose their clothes and dress themselves promotes independence in several ways. By letting them decide what they want to wear each day, they’re learning to have opinions, and express them, and make decisions, which will help them throughout life. There’s an excellent chance they’re not going to choose the outfit you’d want them to wear, and there’s an even better chance they’re not going to match, but they’re going to be proud that they picked it out all by themselves and that helps nurture self-confidence.

Having your child dress themselves helps them learn to be more independent. They may get frustrated by part of the process, and you may need to help, especially with younger children and shirts, shirts are tricky to put on and take off, but they can do a lot of it on their own. They also feel a sense of pride in doing something, “all by myself.”

How do you make it work so that they can choose their clothes or dress? The key to most Montessori lessons is having things where the kids can reach them without an adult’s help. Watch them as they move about their bedroom. What can they reach? What can’t they reach? Do they need your help to open the dresser drawers? Can they reach all of them?

Move your child’s clothes to an area that they can reach without assistance. Often parents find that placing a child’s clothes in the bottom drawers of the dresser and lowering the hanging rack in the closet puts everything within their reach. You can have them choose from outfits you’ve already selected and are OK with, or you can just let them choose from the drawer. Either way works. Allowing them to choose from the drawer makes for some interesting outfits – tie-dye t-shirt and firetruck or dinosaur shorts anyone?

If your child has a jacket, they wear regularly add a hook in the closet or on the door so that they can reach it and get themselves ready. Having your child choose their clothing and dress themselves may take longer than you doing everything for them. However, you’re helping them. They’re learning a practical life lesson, and that’s how to take care of themselves. You can help make sure they have weather appropriate clothing by filling the drawers or closet with clothes that you are OK with them wearing. And know, they may get socks on inside out, undies on backward, shorts on the wrong leg, whatever. It’s ok. If they need your help, they’ll ask. They’re probably not going to match, and something may be on backward or inside out, but they’re going to be proud of what they chose and the fact they could do it on their own, and that’s going to help build their independence and confidence. The more small things they learn to do on their own the easier it will be to overcome a more significant obstacle later in life. They’ll know they can do things for themselves. They don’t need someone else to solve the problem for them.