Dressing Skills Enable Proprioception Development

For many of us, putting on socks in the morning is a common activity. We know exactly how to do it and it’s a common routine we perform without thinking twice about it. However, did you know teaching kids how to dress themselves enables kids to increase their body awareness (proprioception). Plus, this is a task children will be able to perform everyday or a few times a day, making it an incredible opportunity to work multiple times a day on fine motor and sensory skill building.

teaching dressing skills

Teaching dressing skills: putting on a sock

Putting on socks and shoes are also great functional activities. Functional activities are activities that are naturally performed throughout the day that support the development of a child’s skills. When we break it down, there is a lot of movement and thought involved in putting on a sock. Here are the actions that are taking place in the activity:

  • Crossing the midline
  • Targeting a movement
  • Gauging pressure
  • Grasping with fingers
  • In hand coordination
  • Tactile qualities
  • Doing two opposing movements at the same time
  • Body awareness/proprioception


Breaking down the movement of putting on a sock

To give you a better visual of the movements to enable you to break it down further when you’re teaching dressing skills to preschoolers, let’s go through the movements.

  1. First, you grasp the sock, bend toward your foot and you may or may not cross the midline, depending on how you are facing.
  2. Next, bunch the sock up in your hands so that you can have the end ready to put over your toes, if you don’t do that your heel would get caught.
  3. Then you need to direct the foot to the sock opening.
  4. Next, you push your foot into the sock and you pull the sock up at the same time. You have to pull the sock up with the correct pressure and also release the grasp enough to let the sock flow through your hand as you pull it up over your heel and ankle.

As you can see, this is a complex task. Let your children perform as much of the dressing tasks as possible, and you will notice their fine motor skills and ability to do more tasks on their own begin to increase more quickly.

I mention in the video above that when your child or student is doing this task for the first time, it’s good to practice on a larger sock. Use a large sock and maybe one made of fabric that is not elastic such as fleece. This makes this task easier to perform therefore increases success and confidence in this dressing task.

For more dressing skills tasks, click on the videos below.

Learn how to help a child tie their shoes.

Help a child to learn how to zip a zipper

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