Greetings Pigeon Plum Families,
I thought that I would talk about the toileting process in a toddler Montessori classroom for this month’s newsletter. Some of the Pigeon Plums are just starting to participate in the process, while others are active participants in the process, and a few are toileting completely independently.
The main objective for a child who is learning to toilet is to be an active participant in the process, since they are learning to take responsibility for their own bodies. Maria Montessori felt that as soon as a child can participate in any step of the process, they should be asked to be a part of it. Once a child can stand independently, Montessorians ask the child to assist in collecting a fresh diaper and wipes. With every diaper change, the Montessorian invites the child to participate in more and more steps toileting.
Consistency and repetition are vital to a toddler. In a Montessori toddler classroom, we as guides; go through each step of the process every time the toddler toilets. We do this as preparation, with the goal in mind; that the child will participate more and more until the adult no longer needs to be present at all for the child to complete the task.
Each time your toddler gets their diaper changed or uses the toilet at school they are invited to push down their bottom layers of clothing, detach the tabs from their diaper, put their diaper in the trash, clean their body with a wipe, put the wipe in the trash, sit on the toilet, hold their clothing while a fresh diaper is put on, pull up their clothing, and wash their hands.
Throughout the toileting process, I narrate what has happened, what is happening, and what needs to happen next. I encourage you, as parents, to learn this process and use it with your child at home. The more the process is consistent with the same expectations and participation, the smoother the transition will be and the more successful your child will feel while learning how to toilet independently.
(1) Begin by changing your toddler’s diaper in the bathroom. By doing this, you are associating the space (bathroom) with the action that needs to occur (toileting), with the goal of your child associating the toilet with using their bowels.
(2) Change your child standing up. The child should be able to hold onto something secure, like a shelf or the bathtub. When a child stands during the toileting process, it can be a collaborative effort with the child instead of something that is being done to them. Wiping should also be done while your child is standing up, regardless of whether it is urination or a bowel movement. The ultimate goal is for your child to complete the task on their own.
(3) Encourage your child to actively participate in the entire diapering-toileting process:
– Pushing down their bottom clothes
– Opening the tabs of their diaper
– Putting their diaper in the trash
– Wiping themselves
– Putting the wipe in the trash
– Sitting on the toilet
– Getting a new diaper/underwear- Putting on and pulling up their bottoms
This also provides practice in dressing and undressing themselves during the toileting process. In the beginning, your child may need a lot of assistance and that is OK. The more they practice and work at it, the more successful and independent they will be. The goal is to have your child take their bottoms and underwear off and put them back on successfully without any assistance.
(4) Provide opportunities for your toddler to sit on the toilet. Always offer your child the opportunity to sit on the toilet while going through the diapering process. Respect their emotions and do not force your child to use the toilet. The goal is for them to want to use the toilet, and for it to be a positive experience for all involved.
(5) Wash your hands with your child. After the diapering process is complete, model hand washing with your child. The goal is for your child to understand that after spending time in the bathroom, one must wash their hands to stop the spreading of germs.
Since we are encouraging your toddlers to do as much of this process on their own you may pick them up from school with their clothes on backwards, with two feet in one hole of their bottoms, underwear over their bottoms or shoes on the opposite feet. None of this is wrong! Your child has worked hard to take care of themselves and have done the work themselves. When I notice that any of the above mentioned has occurred, I ask them if they are comfortable. If they say yes then we continue with our day; if they say no I state what I notice and ask them to try again. Eventually, with enough practice getting dressed and undressed, they will self-correct their clothing and learn what shoes go on what feet.
Lest you think we have spent all month is the bathroom, since it is autumn (even though it does not feel like it!) the Pigeon Plums have been learning about different types of leaves, gourds, pumpkins, and squash. We have been using language cards with photographs and real examples from the MARC House pumpkin patch.