Montessori At Home Bathroom Setup Ideas
Early on, my kids were adamant that they brush their own teeth. I can picture my young son saying, “I do it” when it was time to brush before bed. While I didn’t just hand over the toothbrush to my toddler and leave it at that, I did recognize his natural desire to learn this skill. Over time, I have learned the value of teaching self-care skills to my kids. Montessori education also emphasizes the importance of self-care skills. While I didn’t initially consider the bathroom as an important location for teaching, I have since realized that bathroom activities present consistent opportunities to teach several self-care skills.
Simple adjustments to a home bathroom setup can make these skills easier for parents to teach and kids to learn. This article features Montessori at home bathroom setup ideas to encourage self-care in the areas of handwashing, bathing, toileting, and brushing teeth.
Why Is Self-Care Important for Kids?
The Montessori Method prioritizes teaching children to take care of themselves, as it develops a sense of independence and confidence. Maria Montessori said, “These words reveal the child’s inner needs; ‘Help me to do it alone.”
In my experience, teaching kids self-care skills also empowers them. When my kids take an active role in their self-care, they are not as dependent on adults for help with these tasks. Additionally, helping children become proficient in new skills is one way parents can help children develop self-esteem.
As a caregiver, teaching my children self-care skills also allows me to take a step back. Instead of taking my kids through multiple steps every time they wash their hands, for instance, I take a more observant role and only intervene when my kids need me. Additionally, my kids seem to feel more confident going to school or playdates without a parent knowing some basic self-care skills.
Accessible Materials Make Self-Care Easier
Making the bathroom child-accessible is an important step in establishing self-care routines. Just like in the Montessori classroom, giving kids access to materials in the bathroom gives them the freedom to complete tasks. When they can get to the materials they need to complete a task, kids are set up for success.
Of course, it’s important to consider safety when giving children access to materials. Choosing child-safe materials to stock the bathroom has given me peace of mind. After implementing these strategies, we always provide adult supervision to make sure our kids have the support they need to be successful.
Consistent Routines Lead to Self-Care
With bathroom self-care tasks, routines are key. To most adults, bathroom tasks like washing hands seem automatic. However, these tasks are not automatic for children. Of course, kids can learn some information through observing others. However, learning consistent bathroom routines for various self-care tasks can help them remember all of the components of the task.
I have seen the most success in my home when I intentionally take the time to walk my kids through the steps of a routine. When kids are very young, parents can start by narrating the steps of a task out loud. Going through routines consistently and explaining even small steps to kids over time is a way to establish routines.
In our home, we have had success using songs to remember the steps of a routine. When kids know and feel comfortable with the steps involved in self-care, they may be more likely to have success.
Montessori at Home Bathroom Setup Ideas for Hand Washing
There are several Montessori at home bathroom setups to encourage successful handwashing. Providing a sturdy stool that lets kids access the sink is helpful. Additionally, making sure the soap dispenser and towel are accessible to kids is also key. We have also had the most success with foaming hand soap. My kids are better able to cover their whole hands with this type of soap.
Teaching kids a step-by-step handwashing routine has been helpful to our family. I learned through trial and error that my kids didn’t inherently understand that they needed to turn the water off when they are finished, or that the sink stopper is not something to play with. Additionally, teaching kids to count or sing a song for the appropriate duration of hand washing is a fun strategy to help kids wash hands for enough time.
Montessori at Home Bathroom Setup for Bathing
There are many ways kids can take part in their self-care while bathing. Adult supervision is always required near water. Often, kids can help wash their bodies with a wash cloth. Using tear-free soap has been helpful in teaching our kids to wash their own hair and bodies.
Making items like a washcloth and towel for drying accessible to kids gives them opportunities to take part in these steps. My kids seem to be the most successful with accessing and replacing towels that are on hooks at their level. Additionally, we’ve also made an effort to go through the parts of the body while washing. I have noticed that this simple step gives our kids more self-awareness about their bodies and how each part functions.
Additionally, when choosing bath toys, a few simple, passive Montessori at home toys are great. Bath time is a great time to emphasize learning opportunities in everyday activities, a key Montessori principle. These Montessori at home bathroom setup ideas can help kids take part in their bathing.
Montessori at Home Bathroom Setup for Toileting
There are a few strategies and setup ideas that give kids the opportunity to be more independent while toileting. Getting a toilet seat attachment allows kids to be more comfortable. Additionally, providing kids a stool so that they can easily access the toilet helps kids complete this step without adult intervention. Some children may prefer a standalone potty seat.
Toilet learning is an area that, in my experience, requires consistently teaching the routine. There are a lot of important aspects of bathroom use that kids may just not know. Using an appropriate amount of toilet paper, always flushing, and then lastly washing hands are all things that parents can emphasize in a routine.
Montessori at Home Bathroom Setup for Brushing Teeth
Brushing teeth is a great way to get kids involved in their self-care. Your Montessori at home bathroom setup may include a stool and organized and accessible materials. A stool that is tall enough so kids can turn the water on and off and see themselves in the mirror works best in our home. My kids have also been more enthusiastic about teeth brushing after choosing their toothbrush design and toothpaste flavor.
In your Montessori at home bathroom setup, limit the available items to exactly what is needed. Providing only a small cup, toothbrush, toothpaste, and hand towel helps my kids stay focused and on task. Another organizational strategy that we use in our home is to designate a color of toothbrush for each child. My kids easily know which toothbrush is theirs and feel confident in starting the task.
Self-Care is Learned Little by Little
Self-care is not a responsibility that kids take on overnight. In my experience, it takes many small lessons over time for kids to learn and feel confident in their ability to take care of themselves in the bathroom. There are also some tasks that come more easily to kids as they develop and mature. Even if they aren’t able to fully command the task, there are benefits for kids taking part in their care.
While it is work for the parents and caregivers to teach these practical life skills and make the materials accessible to kids, it is work that eventually pays off. Kids feel empowered, independent, and confident in their skills. And maybe we parents are able to take a step back as our kids step up. As I send my kids out into the world, little by little over time, it is reassuring to know that they can take care of themselves.
Kelly Marie is a former scientist and mother of three young kids. She enjoys writing about her experiences in parenting and regularly creates free printable resources for parents and teachers for her blog Hey Kelly Marie. She currently lives in Kentucky with her family.