In every parent’s journey, there comes a time when it’s time to teach their kids how to tie their shoes or shoelaces. Learning to tie shoe laces is a cognitive skill that uses strong fine motor skills including finger isolation, hand-eye coordination, visual perception skills, and hand strength. But do you know how to teach kids to tie their shoes? This can be a tricky task!
The average age for a child to be ready to learn is between five and seven. Some are ready earlier, some later. Don’t fret if your child doesn’t seem ready by then. Some kids are late bloomers and that’s perfectly fine. You know your child better than anyone, so you will know when they’re ready.
Depending on where you grew up, there can be varying shoe-tying methods on how to accomplish this. And even though some shoe companies have shoes that don’t require tying laces, or elastic laces that don’t need to be tied but are trendy and fashionable, it’s still a good skill to have.
It teaches patience, how repetition is the key to learning something, and that there’s not always just one way to do something. Tying laces can be a challenge for some, especially neurodivergent kids. But with some patience of your own and some perseverance and determination, together, the challenge is one you can conquer.
How to get them interested in tying their shoes
Make a big deal out of it.
It’s a big milestone for kids and one more step toward them becoming independent and having more control over their lives. By this stage, they could already be in charge of their own outfits and dressing themselves.
This is one more thing they can do that helps them feel more grown up. And wanting to be grown up is way more fun than actually being grown up.
Let them choose their own shoes.
Kids are much more likely to want to learn if they have had a say in the shoes they are wearing. Even if they are the most horrendous pair of shoes you have ever seen, with laces that completely clash, if your kid loves them, you love them.
Make it fun.
Learn some rhymes or make up a story about the actual tying of the laces. There are some cute little rhymes, songs, and stories online you can learn if you can’t think of one. Once they have the hang of it, you can make it a competition (that you’ll lose of course) and if you use a reward chart, it’s a great motivator.
7 tips on how to teach kids to tie their shoes
- When you first start to teach them using their own shoes, sit behind them. It’s easier for them to understand what you’re saying if they are looking at it from the same angle.
- Show your child how to tie a knot and practice that a few times before adding loops or bunny ears. The less complicated you make it at the beginning, the easier it will be for the repetition to sink in
- Show them slowly a few times then, have them place their hands on yours for a few times. Lastly, give them the space and encouragement to do it themselves.
- Do it in stages. Knots, making the loops, crossing them, pulling through etc.
- Be patient. My middle child took three weeks to get the hang of it. My youngest had it down in a day. My oldest took about a week but prefers to wear shoes without laces.
- You can also use props such as ready-made lace-tying toys or by making your own by cutting a shoe shape from cardboard, and poking holes in it.
- Using two different coloured laces can be very useful in explaining the process to kids as they can see which colour of lace goes over, under, around, etc.
Easy ways to tie shoes
How to teach kids to tie their shoes: One loop/bunny ear method
- Tie a knot
- Make a loop/ear and pinch it tight
- Wrap the second lace around the loop over the hand holding the loop/ear
- Pull it through under the loop/ear
- Pull both loops/ears tight
How to teach kids to tie their shoes: The double bunny ear method
- Tie a knot
- Make two loops or bunny ears
- Cross them over and pull one underneath the other
- Pull tight to make a bow
How to teach kids to tie their shoes: The 60-second method
- Put the end of the shoelace in the spare lace hole to form a loop
- Do the same with the other side
- Cross the two loops together and put one under and through the other. Then repeat
These are the three basic methods. There are others that are more complicated and there are heaps of tutorials on how to tie shoelaces in a variety of different patterns that kids sometimes use to stand out, fit in or show their individuality.
The main thing to remember is every kid is different. They learn differently and they do things their own way. Encouragement, support and patience are the key factors to helping your little one pass this milestone with confidence.