How to Use Montessori Dressing Frames

Dressing frames help preschoolers with coordination and motor skills.
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Dressing frames are used in Montessori-style preschools as part of the "Care of the Person" unit. They are framed, square pieces of fabric that have buttons, zippers, shoe laces and other fasteners that help children learn how to fasten their clothing. This tool helps develops children's coordination and motor skills, and also gives them a sense of independence.

1 Using Dressing Frames

When introducing dressing frames to children, start with the easier tasks, such as large buttons, before trying belts and laces. Most people will start this task using their right hand, but if the child is left handed, start with your left hand, instead of your right. First, place the frame on a flat surface in front of the child and show the child how to use it. To use the button frame, unbutton the buttons. Hold the button in your right hand and the fabric in your left hand. Slip the buttons through the holes. Then, demonstrate buttoning by slipping the buttons back through the holes. Make sure the child clearly sees your actions so she can repeat them. The Montessori teaching style emphasizes independent learning, so after you have shown her how to use the frame, leave her alone for a while. Check in on her periodically to gauge her progress. Using the frames is a trial-and-error experiment. After the child practices, she will master that frame and can progress to a more difficult frame.

2 Other Types of Dressing Frames

A variety of dressing frames exist, featuring different fasteners. For example, the shoe-lacing frame features laces the child can use to practice tying and untying shoes; the zipper frame features a zipper the child can use to practice zipping and unzipping pants and jackets; and the bow-tie frame features ribbon that children can use to practice tying and untying bows and knots.

Based in Gatineau, Canada, Kat Walcott has been writing entertainment and informative articles since 2008. Her work has appeared in major publications including Her Campus, Equals6 and Uppercase. She holds an honors diploma in social science from Heritage College and is currently majoring in communication studies and minoring in sexuality studies.