Learning to tie your own shoe laces is a tricky fine motor skill for children, but with patience and practice parents can teach their child to tie their own laces.
Velcro school shoes may make parenting easier, but they also threaten to destroy a childhood rite of passage – learning to tie your own shoe laces. Tying your own shoe laces requires a level of dexterity most kids don’t possess until they’re between five and seven, so take it slow.
Teach them how to tie shoe laces by practicing on a shoe with soft laces. It helps to actually colour in one half of the lace with a marker to make it a different colour and allow you child to distinguish between the two sides of the lace.
Sit side by side so you have exactly the same perspective and can help your child mimic your actions. Hold an untied shoe between your upper legs or knees. The shoe should be facing away from you so that it is in the position that your own shoe would be in if you bent to tie it.
Instruct your child to hold one end of the shoestring in each hand. Everything you tell them to do, you should also do so that they can copy you.
Cross the laces so that they form an “X” in the air. Wrap the bottom lace of the X over and through the top lace of the X. When it is pulled tight, this will form the base of the shoelace bow.
The easy bunny ears method of tying laces
Two bunny ears help the child tie a square knot, one of the easiest knots to learn. Try teaching this:
- Fold each end of the lace into a single “bunny ear.” You can hold the “ears” in place between your thumb and pointer finger on each hand.
- Cross the bunny ears so that they form an “X” in the air.
- Loop the bottom bunny ear over and through the top bunny ear. This will create a second knot.
- Pull the bunny ears out to the side away from the shoe. This will create a square knot that will not easily come undone and will hold the shoe in place.
How to tie a shoe lace the more complicated way
Take one lace in each hand and make an X. Draw the top lace through the bottom of the X and pull the two laces tight. Then make a loop out of each lace.
Step 2: Cross the bunny ears over each other
Cross one “ear” over the other, in the opposite order of your overhand knot.
Step 3: Run the bunny ears over each other
Explain how “the bunny runs around the tree” by bending one loop over the other.
Step 4: See the bunny jump in a hole
Now “the bunny sees a dog and jumps in the hole”: Pass the tip of the bent ear through the hole.
Step 5: Pull loops tight
For extra security, you can double the knot by making another overhand knot with the loops.
Practise tying laces with your child until he can do it himself. Using a homemade practise board can be helpful. Then have him practise tying knots while wearing the shoes. Before you know it, you can throw out the Velcro shoes and your child will have mastered some fine motor skills that will help in other areas of learning. They might even like to graduate to some funky advanced shoe lace tying techniques!