With flu season already bombarding our homes, staying clean is important for all of us. In my effort to transform our adult environment at home into one where our boys (27 months and 9 months) feel liberated and independent, this week for Montessori in the Home I focused on the process of washing hands. I wish that I could break down a wall and install a kids sized sink, toilet, towel rods, etc but alas I cannot do that, at least not right now. So, we'll do our best to make adjustments for the betterment of our boys development in mind.
Montessori at Home
Generally, my goal is to make the bathroom kid-friendly, try to lead by example (modeling is huge in kid development, right?), and make hand washing a part of our daily routine before and after meals and after playing outside, at a park or in some other germy place.
The Sink Space – I will make it accessible with a two step stool. I also made the space simple and clean by removing anything that might distract him. The set up is very simple. A sink and a soap pump. I am going to add a fun sponge/scrubber for him soon.
The Two Step Stool – My children are not going to be very tall so a two step stool was definitely required. We originally purchased the Bjorn stool but it wasn't working out for my two year old. The Kid Kraft two step stool made all the difference for all of us.
The Drying Towel – I made the towel accessible and fun to my son. Since our bathrooms have towel holders at adult level and we're not going to install kid level hooks or bars for a towel (not yet anyway) my solution is to place a towel in the “storage” compartment of the KidKraft stool. You could also provide a small basket with a towel and scrubber. Target has some really cute kids towel sets for a very reasonable price. Making the hand towel his or her own has smoothed the process!
The Soap – Our hand soap pump was too hard for my son to use so I went to Target and got a soap pump for his own. Again, Target has really cute sets. Trust me, it'll get your child excited about the prospect of washing his hands. He loves to pump his own soap.
The Water Faucet Extender – This product by Peachy has proven to be a true gift. While in a perfect world, my son would be able to reach the water on his own, this product is a great way to adapt your adult environment to help your child to feel more independent and self-sufficient. The first time he used it, my son said, “mum, I can reach it!” A wonderful moment! Totally worth the $13!
The Poster – Kids are visual learners. We review the steps to washing hands a lot these days. I am going to laminate a hand washing poster and hang in the bathroom for his reference. For now, we're discussing the steps and trying to get the habit in place. There are great free posters on the internet. Here is a cute poster and here and here. I might just end up making my own printable.
The Songs – Kids love songs, right? Songs always make everything more fun. Our song is as simple as “Its time to wash our hands now, our hands now, our hands now, its time to wash our hands now, at the sink!” Also a song during hand washing time that last the time we should be washing (say 20-30 seconds) is always helpful. I love this super cute site for song ideas!
Benefits go beyond our kids staying and being healthy, becoming self sufficient and gaining confidence, although those goals are paramount. Other benefits include freeing my hands and my energy to do other things and to be a better parent. Hauling little bodies to the sink and performing the balancing act of getting their hands clean is not a good use of energy. Not fun for anyone. Now our two year old enjoys and takes pride in washing up, and I have more energy to enjoy that new found independence.
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“Environment cannot create human power, but only give it scope and material, direct it, or at most but call it forth; and the teacher's task is first to nourish and assist, to watch, encourage, guide, induce, rather than to interfere, prescribe, or restrict.” ~ Maria Montessori