Whenever possible, allow your child to participate in caring for themselves. These opportunities will start as choices or collaborations and grow into tasks that he is able to complete independently.
Dr. Montessori wrote, “Everyone knows that it requires much more time and patience to teach a child how to eat, wash, and
clothe himself than it does to feed, bathe, and clothe him by oneself. The one who does the former is an educator.”
Investing extra time to show your child how to do things independently will provide him with confidence that no amount of “help” can give.
Setting up a self-care station is one method of empowering a child to participate in washing, brushing, and dressing.
Here’s what you’ll need to create a self-care station
- Start by following your child’s current interest. Do they want to select their own clothing or might they be more interested in using the sink in the bathroom? Use whatever space you have, but you might want to focus either on a getting dressed station or a personal hygiene routine.
- Place a mirror at your child’s eye level. This helps convey that the space is designed for them and that we, as caregivers, will prepare an environment that meets their needs. Instead of lifting them up to see the mirror over our own bathroom sink, they are now welcome to use the mirror at any time.
- Install hooks or shelves to accommodate their self-care belongings. Try to anticipate the tasks you want to introduce and design a path that will allow your child to do as many of the steps by themselves as possible. Browse the photos in this post for ideas.
- Offer a stool for access to things you cannot move lower. If turning off the light is part of the routine you are modeling, perhaps the stool will stay next to the light switch. Your child can move it to the sink to wash hands and then move it back to the light switch to turn the light off.
Using Water In A Self-Care Station
Monti Kids families have come up with a variety of solutions to bring water to the child’s level for handwashing.
A simple solution is to have a large bowl that serves as a child’s basin, with a jug from which the adult pours water to fill it.
A large water dispenser is another popular solution. Toddlers can quickly learn to open the tap to wet their toothbrush or fill a cup of water.
Self-care station for dressing
When it comes to getting dressed, the Montessori approach guides us to only do for our child the tasks that they can not do for themselves. So, while they may not be able to pick appropriate clothes or shoes for the weather, we do this part for them by only making available a small number of items to choose from.
A low-hanging clothing rack and shelves allows a child to select their clothing. Baskets can corral socks, underwear, and pajamas. A small hamper will enable little ones to place their dirty clothes in the right place before changing into clean clothes. A basket with handles like the one pictured above invites your child to carry their dirty clothes to the laundry area.
Self Care Station Favorites
The concept of a self-care station is flexible. It can expand as your child is ready to do more tasks. It’s all about helping a little one build confidence as they can take care of their own bodies.
Some items that Monti Kids families like to make available to their children include:
- tissues for nose-wiping
- soap and water for hand-washing (tip: break a full-size bar of soap in half for easier handling)
- toothbrush and toothpaste
- diapering items for stand-up changes
- a small towel for drying hands
- stool for reaching the sink which can also be used for assistance when putting on clothes or shoes