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Everyday Learning and the Education of Getting Dressed

Let me start with a dismaying anecdote: When I worked as an aide in the public school system, fully half of my third-grade students did not yet know how to tie their shoelaces. Some still struggled with buttons.

Now, we can talk about why that might be, and it would be easy to pontificate and cast judgement on why this was the case, but if I were to give you my honest opinion, it would be this:

Adults often forget that dressing yourself is a learned skill that takes time and practice.

I don't remember learning to tie my shoes. I don't remember learning to button buttons or zip zippers. I remember buckles only because I remember struggling to tighten the shoulder straps on my snow pants in kindergarten and my teacher telling me to hurry up.

My point is that for many of us, these were skills we learned so long ago that we forgot we had to learn them. Mix that in with being a parent in a plugged-in, side-hustle society, and it becomes easier to understand how teaching children these skills can fall through the cracks.

Both Waldorf and Montessori methods work to correct these kinds of oversights with their respective "learn through play" and "play as work" philosophies.

Providing your child with toys that incorporate these everyday dressing skills, such as buttons, snaps, ties, laces, and zippers is not only fun for them, but allows them to practice these skills in a relaxed, stress-free time frame (as opposed to rushing to not miss the bus).

These thoughts were in our minds as Audrey and I designed every aspect of our Waldorf dolls and their clothes.

We chose to lightly weight their feet with buckwheat hulls, to provide enough resistance and heft for children to practice putting on socks and shoes. We designed the hands to have pronounced thumbs for practicing putting on mittens (new products spoiler!). We considered materials and the best lengths for hair because we wanted, first and foremost, every doll to allow for maximum imagination and life skills practice.

The clothes we make come with adaptive options for closures. We know that some children who want to play with dolls don't yet have the dexterity to do up buttons, so we offer snaps as an alternative. We are also hoping to integrate magnetic closures in the future!

This kind of play sets children up for success as they transfer their skills to other aspects of their lives. It also encourages brain and motor skill development. Plus, it's fun!

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Waupaca WI, 54981 USA

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