“Any child who is self-sufficient, who can tie his shoes, dress or undress himself, reflects in his joy and sense of achievement the image of human dignity, which is derived from a sense of independence.” Maria Montessori

Snaps, velcro, lace, and bows, lace and bows are a few of the iconic large wooden dressing frames with fabric overlays found on a well-placed shelf or on a tower in the practical life area of the Young Child’s Community and Primary classroom.

The direct aim of this work is not only care of self, but focus of attention, integration of mind and body, control and coordination, and motive for purposeful activity (transition into real life).

The indirect aim is the specific activity (buttoning, zippering, lacing, bow tying, etc.).

It is one of the major steps towards independence, teaching children how to care for themselves by learning how to dress and undress oneself.

When you can practice the steps on a table and away from you versus upside down and backwards, it’s not so difficult to repeat those steps when the clothing is on you!

Each dressing frame features one type of skill: fastening, zippering, large buttons, bows. It starts in the YCC with velcro, zipper, and large button frames, and progresses in Primary to include lacing, bows, buckles, and snaps- those that require more steps or dexterity.

There are several repetitions of the fastening down the frame, which encourages repetition. Through repetition, the child has the opportunity to practice the skill again and again, to discover which aspect is giving them trouble, to move down and try again until they master the skill.

It is inevitably one of the biggest, “I did it!” moments in the classroom and one that provides some of the biggest teaching joys.

“The child who is able to say “I did it all by myself” has a feeling of joy and accomplishment and a sense of belonging in his world.” Maria Montessori

The Dressing Frame

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