This is a perfect time of year to share a simple little lesson that rocked my world when I was in my Montessori teacher training: how to put on a coat by yourself. I had seen many a young child struggle with getting arms in sleeves, especially the left arms after the right arm is holding the coat in place. And I had helped many a child put on a coat because he just couldn’t do it by himself at all.
This technique for a young child to put on a coat is so simple, and yet I had never encountered it before.
Here are the steps, as you would present them to your child:
1. Lay your coat on the floor.
2. Spread the coat out fully extending the arms and opening the flaps.
3. Walk around to the top of the coat.
4. Put each hand in the closest armhole and grip material with hands.
5. Raise arms up, swinging the coat over your head and onto your back.
6. Pull arms the rest of the way through.
7. Fasten closures. (I still frequently help with this part, although he like to try by himself first.)
Both of my children have loved developing the independence of putting on their own coats. I don’t remember exactly when I gave each of them the lesson, but it must have been around when they turned two. I know Mr. BANG was putting on his coat last winter, and he had turned two in December.
Along with putting on a coat independently, it’s great to have a way for children to hang up a coat independently. There are multiple ways of going about that. If you have a low hanging rack, you can show them how to use a hanger: lay the coat on the floor and open it; center the hanger at the top of the coat; wrap one side of the coat over the hanger; wrap the other side over the hanger; zip or button (at least the top button); lift the coat by the shoulder and hook the hanger over the bar of the hanging rack.
Another great idea is to place low hooks for them to hang coats on. I imagine even something as simple as those fabulous Command hooks would work.
What we did in our house is buy a child-sized coat rack. Drama Queen can easily use the coat rack, although Mr. BANG still has trouble reaching high enough to hang his coat up. (Getting one down is no problem for him.) I’ve considered adding some large Command hooks lower on the rack, but haven’t done so yet.