Buttons and Zippers and Self-Esteem, Oh My!

Winter is here – and so are all of the zippers, laces, buckles, jacket sleeves, snow pants, gloves, and mittens that create a unique type of “snow-clothes-storm” in our hallways.

At first glance, this part of our day might feel a bit overwhelming. And, I’ll admit there are those moments that make dream of summer… However, learning to navigate snow clothes provides copious opportunities for teaching, reteaching, and practicing self-help skills. I often joke that we’ll spend 45 minutes getting ready for 15 minutes in the snow… But, really, it’s the truth. And, in some cases, classes will repeat this process for a second or even third recess. That’s a lot time – and, it’s worth it.

Pride in achievement is extremely motivating for all human beings – especially children.

As children develop a sense of “I am, and I can,” they carve out a personal identity that will help them to become cooperative contributors in both home and school communities. According to Karen Stephens, sometimes parents have mixed feelings about children’s flowering abilities. On one hand, we applaud their determination to spread their wings. On the other, we cling to the closeness dependence offers. But, encouraging developmentally appropriate self-help skills helps children in the long run. They become more self-assured, accountable, and responsible as they forge toward adulthood.

However, let’s be honest. Teaching a child to dress in outdoor gear is hard… It’s also often frustrating for children (and parents). As teachers, we take a different lens. Instead of thinking about it through the lens of “We’re going to be late!” we see intentional opportunities for teaching. Let’s break it down: As children get ready to go outside, our faculty focuses on skills such as on planning and sequencing tasks. For example, when dressing you need to put on your snow pants first, then your boots, then your jacket, then your hat, and finally your mittens.

Our thoughtful approach helps to ensure that the children don’t become overwhelmed – and the crux of WHY we take so much time to get ready – sometimes twice a day – is that Being able to accomplish daily tasks such as dressing yourself builds self-worth and the feeling of being capable and competent.

As adults, we must bring patience to the experience and know that children’s confidence grows through opportunities to try new things in a safe and supportive environment with lots of positive reinforcement. Please help us to ensure that your child has all of their outdoor gear at school – especially on snowy days. Doing so helps your child to feel secure and makes the process of learning these important self-help skills even more rewarding.  

Dreaming of snow (and bluebird skies, in Steamboat),

– Kath