When the weather turns cold and all of the kids need help with their coats. How can you help your child be independent?

Helping a child learn how to put on their coat

There is a day, usually in mid-November, when the jackets arrive. My assistant and I used to dread this day! It’s not just a chilly morning, it’s an overall chilly day. What does that mean? Coats on and off all day long, we will be late any time we need to leave the class, and frustration. Why frustration? Because the children have yet to master this skill. Some have the attitude that…

“I can do it all by myself”

So sit back because it’s going to take the time and others suddenly become like an octopus flailing about in the ocean. The children enter class and the first thing they do is rip off their jacket. The sleeves go inside out, setting them up for future failure. So it is time for the jacket lesson. I bring one child up to the front, usually a child that has mastered this large motor skill and they demonstrate the different ways we can put our coat on. We teach them three different ways they can master this skill:

  1. The Hood technique– If your coat has a hood, you can put the hood on your head first then it will be much easier to reach your arms into the sleeves. 
  2. The Helping Friends technique– find a partner and hold the coat for each other. This allows for the teachers to help with the zipping and buttoning which is a whole different lesson.  When they help another child out, they benefit from trying to figure it out for themselves as well.
  3. The Coat Flip technique– This is a class favorite, for this method have the children lay the coats on the floor, have them stand by the neckline, reach down and insert arms, and flip it over their heads. And Voila! The coat is on! Now, this does take some practice. They will want to stand at the waist of the jacket because logically this makes the most sense to them. But once they get this they will feel so successful. This brings us to the picture above.

This was an octopus child, he had no desire to learn how to put on his coat. He knew if he stood there holding it long enough someone would do it for him. So when it finally clicked that he was going to need to do it for himself this was the outcome. Inside out, hood by the behind and the zipper starting by his chin.

As the teacher what is my action?

Can I take it off of him and fix it? Do I make him fix it or do I just leave it (GULP!)? Well, I left it. What you can’t see in this picture was his big smile on his face and his feeling of accomplishment. The hood and the zipper weren’t bothering him, it wasn’t freezing outside. That is when I asked him if I could take his picture because I was excited about his new accomplishment. I posted this picture to my class page and said if your child walks out of the class like this, it’s ok. Please don’t rip off his coat and fix it, you will squish his motivation. In a week or so he was able to work on the sleeves and this wasn’t the issue anymore. Now if he were frustrated or uncomfortable, I would have shown him where the problem was. But not this day, this day I had to tell myself to let it be!

Bring it Back to Jesus

Bring it back to Jesus In my Sunday school class, at the end of each lesson, there is a Christ Connection. When I am done reading the lesson I say to the class “Now we…” and they bring their one hand to the other and say “bring it back to Jesus!” So I will end each story by bringing it back to Jesus.

Job 4:4 “Your words have upheld him who was stumbling, and you have made firm the feeble knees”

We have been given the gift of teaching these small children, of encouraging them, of guiding them and comforting them. When we use this approach we will see such growth in them. We all stumble with things in our lives and how sweet is it when a friend comes by and… makes firm our feeble knees?

my signature, xoxo Shannon
the pinterest image for this post

Sharing is caring!

Categories: love


I enjoy doing God's work from the church basement where I have been a preschool teacher for the last 18 years. My husband and I have two newly grown and flown children. Our son just graduated college and is working his dream job and my daughter just got married and is in her first year teaching preschool at our church. It is a joy to see her everyday at work.


Leave a Reply

Avatar placeholder

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *