For a long time I tried to interest Caspar in dressing himself. When he was around eighteen months old we made all of his clothing available to him. I installed a wooden dowel in his wardrobe so he could easily reach all of his hanging clothes. His folded clothes went into piles and baskets on the lower shelves.
I know that dressing - choosing his own clothing and putting them on is important towards his independence, but he just wasn't interested. Perhaps I didn't encourage him enough. Perhaps we had missed the sensitive period.
Well, the time has finally come. At three years, three months he has found the desire for self dressing. After finding him fumbling around for his favourite shorts, I decided his wardrobe needed revisiting.
Here is what we tried when organising his wardrobe:
- Limit the number of clothes, children do not need too many choices.
- Ensure all the clothing needed is within the child's easy reach.
- Make available only seasonally appropriate clothing.
- Make available only clothing that the child is allowed to wear. Keep special clothes out of reach or in a separate basket until the child is old enough to understand.
- Make available only clothes that fit. Have a 'too small' and 'too big' basket readily available to the adults, this will make it easier to remove clothing that no longer fits and have a place to store clothes that are given or purchased that are too big - so they are not forgotten about.
- Put foldable clothes in baskets, I am not too concerned if the clothes stay folded as long as they stay in the basket.
- For pre-readers put picture and word labels on the baskets.
- Put shoes in a basket and peg together so it is easier for the child to put the right shoe on the right foot.
- Provide a low stool near the wardrobe to sit on while dressing. This may be easier than the child sitting on the floor.
- Ask and at first help the child put away their own clean laundry. Initially this helps them to know where each item goes but in the long term helps them contribute to daily tasks and family life.
- It goes without saying - make clothes easy to wear and put on. We still use pull on shirts, elastic waisted pants and pull on or velcro shoes.
- Keep dress-ups in a completely different area or room. A child shouldn't be confused between their clothes and dress-ups or costumes.
A tidy and well organised area is so much easier for a young child (and his mother) to manage. These shots were taken after our recent tidy up.