One thing that hasn’t changed in my home since the coronavirus is hand washing. I’m a stickler for proper hand hygiene. Call it crazy, but I’m an OCD nurse, and to avoid nasty germs circling my home, we started learning washing at a young age. I make my kids wash their hands after the bathroom, before eating, after coming home from being out and about, and whenever it’s visibly soiled or icky.
Nowadays, our toddlers and preschoolers must learn to wash their hands independently and effectively. Here is a tutorial on how to teach your toddler to wash their hands in the Montessori way.
Now I know you think you need a porcelain pitcher and a bowl, but for this activity, you can use a regular mixing bowl that’s sufficient enough to keep most of the water in one place.
If messes make you anxious, then keep in mind that you may have a wet floor or table. So grab a towel to prepare.
Older toddlers and preschoolers may be able to do this on their own with just your supervision and help when necessary.
However, younger toddlers will need more support. So you can do all the steps together side by side.
Let’s get started!
- A Small Mixing bowl
- Small Kid-Sized Organic Bar Soap ( We use homemade soap)
- A hand towel for drying hands
- A soap dish
- Towel to keep the floor dry
- A nail cleaning brush (optional)
- A non-toxic Kids lotion (optional)
First, you will demonstrate the Montessori handwashing lesson; then, your child will recreate what they have seen.
- Find a place to set up your Montessori handwashing station. We use a small kid-sized table that’s the perfect height for my preschooler. But you can use the floor or a coffee table. You want to make sure the area you’re using is at your child’s level.
- Collect all the items needed and place them on the kid-sized table. You’ll set a mixing bowl, a pitcher, soap, soap dish, hand towel, nail brush, and lotion.
- While teaching your child, you’ll grab the pitcher and fill it up with water and pour the water into the mixing bowl. You don’t need to fill it to the top; you just need enough water to be able to clean your hands effectively.
- Look at your hands and talk to your child about how sticky they feel. Discuss how you need to wash them. Dip your hands into the bowl filled with water. Talk to your toddler about what the water feels like. Reach for the soap and talk about why you’re using it.
- Lather up your hands with the soap and place the soap back into the dish. Use your hands to create friction along each finger, starting with the left hand. Make sure to get in between each finger and the back of each hand. You can begin with the thumb on each hand and work your way to the pinky finger. Use the nail brush as needed. While you’re doing this, you can sing a song, count, or make up a rhyme about washing your hands. Row Your Boat is a classic that we use in the medical profession to make sure your washing for at least 20-30 seconds. This helps your child establish a routine.
- Dip your hands into the mixing bowl to rinse, making sure to use friction to remove germs.
- Grab the hand towel and dry your hands. Make sure to take your time drying each finger. Once your done drying, inspect your hands to make sure they aren’t wet. If you notice they are still wet, indicate to your child that they are still wet, and you need to dry them some more.
- Now it’s time to clean up and get rid of the soapy water. So you will demonstrate how to clean up and wipe down excess water around the station.
- Now it’s time for your toddler or preschooler to repeat what you demonstrated. Again, if you have an older toddler, they may be able to do this on their own, while you supervise and redirect as needed. For younger toddlers, you will need to do the tasks side by side or with them.
Your child may want to spend some time playing in the water, splashing, and washing more than once. That’s perfectly fine. The goal is to have fun and allow them the opportunity to enjoy playing in the soapy water, so washing their hands don’t become a dreaded chore. For example, my son spent an hour playing in the soapy water when we did this practice lesson at home.
Conclusion to Montessori handwashing lesson
Nevertheless, I know this lesson may seem simple, but there are a number of things toddlers and preschoolers learn from washing their hands. This lesson has a lot of sensory work such as playing in the water to smelling the soap.
Along the same lines, This Montessori handwashing lesson teaches toddlers and preschoolers that things get dirty and must be cleaned. All in all, as we face such turmoil from the Coronavirus we should strive to have handwashing a major part of our families day to day living tasks.