Getting dressed

Posted: October 24, 2019

Getting dressed independently is an important practical life skill and it is something we practice every day. There is so much going on with simply putting on a jacket, socks, or boots.
Getting dressed requires gross motor and fine motor skills, you need balance and coordination, body awareness and control.
Our role as the educator is to teach the skill, model it, support, and then to encourage the student on an on-going basis for continued success.
This requires a lot of patience and practice. It would be so much easier and faster for me to dress, zip, and put on a student's shoes. But that would benefit me, not the student, so we practice, and we take all the time we need - no matter what.
In this video, Storm is getting ready for outside play by putting on his boots and as you can see, it took him 30 seconds to complete this task. With the support of his EA, she used both verbal and gesturing prompts and provided him with the appropriate amount of "think time" to guide Storm through the process - and he was successful!! She didn't rush him, she didn't intervene, and she didn't complete the task for him. Over time, as we practice, the children will require less prompting and getting dressed will become second nature.
The thing(s) to remember when teaching a new skill and nurturing a child's independence:
  1. Just because they learned the skill, doesn't mean they've instantly mastered it. There are so many factors that can disrupt your childs success - maybe the zipper on a particular jacket is harder than another. High top shoes are trickier than ankle cut. Does their clothing fit them? If it's too big or too small, that may make getting dressed more difficult. Are they tired, sick, hungry? Most importantly, children have good days and bad days too, so adjust your expectations and be compassionate.
  2. Don't give up! Always move forward.
  3. Be patient and make sure you have lots of time.
  4. Be their biggest cheerleader. Never let up the praise, seriously, nurturing independence requires a lot of encouragement because we are also building up their confidence.