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Five Minutes with Melissa

Five Minutes with Melissa: DRESSING FRAMES

We spent five minutes with Melissa Rohan, president of Waterfront Academy, learning about an important aspect of Montessori teaching methods, dressing frames.

Dressing frames have the same ideas—independence, fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination. There are both toddler and primary dressing frames that are almost identical with some small changes like bigger buttons and Velcro for toddlers. Primary classrooms also work with shoelace tying.

As soon as a toddler becomes of toddler age, they begin for the first time to express independence. The dressing frames help give them items to become more independent. Parents of toddlers may begin to realize they are saying things like “I’ll do it” and “My turn” more and more. We are giving them more ways to be independent safely. Eventually they can practice getting themselves ready in the morning.

Once toddlers learn, they love getting themselves dressed over and over. They often get creative, wearing many layers. They may look a little silly for a few months, but during that phase there is an important part of development going on that we foster here at Waterfront Academy.

If you’d like to practice the dressing frame skill at home, any parent or guardian can do this. Usually first is the adult’s turn, then the child’s turn. You guide them and show them how to do the skill first. Don’t use your mouth, show them quietly and once you’re done, say “your turn.” If they don’t get it right the first time, say “my turn” and have them watch again. While doing this, not speaking is important because if you’re talking the child is watching you and not the task they are learning.

This is the same with our bean pouring skill, or lots of other skills in the Montessori method that children learn.

- As told to Kate Oczypok

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