Teaching your child how to tie their shoelaces can be challenging and frustrating for most parents. However, it is one of the developmental milestones that every parent wants their kid to master before they enter kindergarten.
This skill is an important skill to have. Whether you are an athlete going out on the field or a person heading out to school or office, everyone secures their laces if wearing a shoe with laces.
Not only does this skill ensure a proper fit of your shoe but also prevents you from injuries. Kids who do not know how to tie their own shoelaces may leave them untied when they become loose and therefore experience a higher risk of tripping.
When Do Kids Learn To Tie Shoes?
As a child turns six, they must learn the art of tying their shoelaces. By this age, a child develops their hand-eye coordination and thus, it becomes easy for them to learn the art.
Before they turn six, most parents may start teaching their kids how to tie shoelaces.
To make your little one learn this important skill, you may encourage them to practice lacing shoes on a shoebox. Here, you can cut out small holes for laces to intertwine. Making your child practice this skill on a shoebox allows them to get a wider space to work on. The more perfectly they tie a knot on the shoebox, the better they will be able to tie the laces of their shoes.
There are more helpful activities to encourage your child to tie shoelaces below.
Different Skills Needed For Tying Shoelaces
Teaching your kiddo the art of tying shoelaces is more than just sitting down with shoes and their laces. Before mastering this skill, a child needs to master some of the basic developmental skills.
If your child is struggling to learn how to tie their shoelaces, it might be due to some of their underlying skills. Some of the basic skills needed to grab the art of shoe lacing are:
Bilateral Coordination Skills
Does your kiddo find it challenging to get their both hands to work together? If so, tying shoelaces can be a big challenge for them.
Thus, before teaching your child the shoe lacing skill, ensure they develop their bilateral coordination.
Apart from shoe lacing, children struggling with bilateral coordination might find it difficult to make use of a knife and fork, buttoning, holding the paper while writing through another hand, inappropriate scissor cutting, and so on.
Thus, before motivating your kid’s shoelace tying skills, talk to an occupational therapist to improve their bilateral coordination skill.
Fine Motor Skills
To master the shoelace tying skill, it’s important that your child develops their fine motor skills first. In case your kiddo avoids writing tasks, opening containers or doing up buttons, they might also struggle with shoelace tying activity.
Thus, before encouraging them to learn how to tie shoelaces, make them practice different fine motor activities like hand and finger exercise, scissor skills, arts and crafts, etc. to strengthen their hand and finger muscles.
Just like neat handwriting, cutting a line, and catching a ball, shoelace tying too is a skill that needs hand-eye coordination. This is a crucial developmental skill as it is considered to be at the core of important activities in life.
Hand-eye coordination allows your kid to make use of their vision and muscles to perform activities like tying shoelaces. Here, the eyes guide the hands to tie the laces.
There are several ways to boost hand-eye coordination in children. Encourage them to practice activities like pushing and catching balls, object relays, rolling a ball, ball-wall toss, and so on. Without hand-eye coordination, they can have some real trouble to figure out how each lace is tied.
When your child’s brain fails to process what their eyes are seeing, they might struggle to put one lace onto another while overlapping and creating a knot with them.
Thus, you must consider helping to improve your kiddo’s visual perceptual skills, if they are facing a struggle there.
To make the process easy, provide your child with dual-colored laces, as it helps them to understand how laces merge into each other and tie them.
For visually impaired children, one can also make use of textured shoelaces to develop the skill efficiently.
Tactile perception is one of the five senses that encompass our ability to experience pressure, vibration, temperature, and stretch. It is also one of the development milestones for your child to develop control over their fingers and hand movement.
Tactile perception enables your little one to hold onto the shoe laces and feel what it is doing. While tying shoelaces, your kiddo needs to go through several feelings like how and where the laces are overlapping and how to pull the laces without being able to see the finger movements.
If your kid has poor tactile perception skills, encourage them to participate in activities like making a sensory bag, asking them to identify household objects without looking, grocery tactile games, shape discrimination, and so on.
Those with real difficulty can be provided with textured shoelaces and memory ties to improve their tactile perception skills, which is important for tying shoelaces.
Activities to Improve Skills Required for Shoetying
Shoe tying is an activity that requires a precise sequence of fine motor movements. To do this activity, both hands are responsible for their own set of dexterous movements. Here, the brain also coordinates with the sequence of hand movements so that each of the hands coordinates with the other. Thus, before you teach your kiddo the art of tying shoelaces, involve them in some fun exercises that help to master the skills of bilateral coordination, fine motor movements, hand dexterity, visual perception, and so on.
Get your child some beads and colored pipe cleaners. To make the activity more fun, arrange beads of different colors.
Now, ask your child to pick beads and match them with pipe cleaners according to their color. Once done, ask them to thread the beads through the pipe cleaners.
This is a great activity to improve their visual perception along with fine motor skills and hand-eye coordination.
Before introducing your little one to the shoelace tying activity, encourage them to practice cardboard weaving to strengthen the basic skills required to perform the activity successfully.
Here, take a cardboard box and cut heart-shaped pieces out of it. Now, encourage your munchkin to color those pieces in different colors. Once the paint on those heart pieces dries up, punch two holes in each of them. Ask your kid to thread those heart-shaped pieces together using yarn.
This fun craft will strengthen their fine muscles and improve their movements and dexterity. To make it more interesting, you can ask your kiddo to hand the hearts in their room.
Rings and Pins
Provide some clothespins to your kid and ensure that they are of different colors. Now, get them some colorful rings. Encourage your little one to attach those colorful pins on the rings matching the colors.
This activity is not only fun but also improves their visual perception, motor skills, and bilateral coordination skills. Pinching the pins strengthens your child’s fine muscles and improves the dexterity of the finger muscles. Later on, this will help your kid with holding onto shoelaces.
Painting with Cotton Balls & Clothespins
Provide your kids with some cotton balls and clothespins. Now, ask them to grab a cotton ball with a pin. Give them some paint and let them dip those cotton balls into the paint.
Next, ask them to draw a picture or letter of their choice on a painting page. To grab cotton balls with pins, and then do this activity, your kid will need to use different types of grasps.
This activity is very impactful in improving their finger dexterity and hand manipulation ability, which are important for tying shoelaces.
Visual Cues for Shoe Tying
Take a picture of yourself, doing all the steps required to tie a shoe. Now, print those photos. Ask your kid to hold those pictures in a string using clothespins.
Guide them to arrange those pictured in the order they need to follow to complete the task. This will guide them through each step required to tie shoelaces and provide them with visual cues that will help them to work on the skill independently.
Steps for Tying Shoes
There are over 20 different ways that you can tie shoelaces. Here, we have listed the ways to help your kid tie their shoes.
Many parents may already have a preferred method to teach kids to tie shoes. However, for some little ones, teaching the same method may not be the most suitable for them.
Here are the simple shoelace tying methods that can help teach kids to tie their shoelaces. Initially, you may want to show your kid different methods to see what is easiest for them.
However, it is important for them to learn and become experienced in one main method, especially when they are young. This will help them consolidate the method and avoid confusion.
Circle Method for Tying Shoes
- Let your kid put their shoes on a flat surface and ask them to spread the shoelaces on both sides.
- Ask them to tie those laces into a knot.
- Let them make another very loose knot so that it forms a circle.
- Guide them to hold the knot at its place and let it stay flat.
- From the front, ask them to put one of their laces inside that loose knot.
- Ensure that they keep the string loose without sliding out of the circle.
- Ask your kid to put another lace inside the circle from its back.
- Now that they have two loops on both sides, ask them to pull tight.
- Keeping the shoes on a flat surface, ask your kid to spread the laces on both sides.
- Using both the laces, guide them to make a basic knot by crossing each of the strings one over another. Ask them to pull the knot tight.
- Ask them to keep both the laces over their fingers.
- Help them to keep their thumbs and forefingers under each lace.
- Ask them to grab the opposite laces with their fingers and pull them tightly to make a knot.
Bunny Ears Knot
- Ask your kiddo to put their shoes on the ground and spread the laces to both sides.
- Again ask them to make a basic knot by crossing the laces one over another and pulling them tight.
- By grabbing between their thumb and first two fingers, ask them to create a bunny ear loop with lace 1 and a bunny ear loop with lace 2.
- Ensure that they keep the loop small and the rear ends of the laces long.
- Ask them to cross the loops and bring one of the loops from below.
- Guide them to pull the loops tightly to secure the knot.
Ian Knot Technique
Created by Ian Fieggen, it is known to be the fastest shoelace knot.
- Putting the shoes on the ground, ask your kiddo to put the laces on both sides of the shoe.
- Ask them to create a basic knot by crossing each lace over another and pulling them tight.
- Let the kid use their thumb and forefinger to create a loop with one of their laces.
- Ensure they keep the loose end on the front.
- Ask them to follow the step for other lace as well, keeping the loose end on the back.
- Guide them to put the loose ends of the laces through each other’s loop.
- Ask them to pull tight to secure the knot.
- Avoid distractions: Teach them in a quiet place to eliminate distractions.
- Give them time: This is not a easy skill to master. Do not rush the learning process by allowing them to have more time. Dedicate time throughout the day for learning. This might be in the afternoon compared to the busy morning rush.
- Master underlying skills: For children, tying shoelaces can be a challenging task, especially if they have not yet mastered the underlying skills needed to tie their shoes.
- Teach one method of tying shoelaces: It can become confusing when you are learning too many different methods. Teach them on method at a time.
- Practice regularly: As tying shoelaces demands several other skills, make them practice this activity in intervals. Remember, regular practice can make them perfect at tying shoes.
- Two Hands: Many children will try to use one hand when making bunny ears, encourage them to use two while making the bunny ears with each lace.
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