It’s that time of your child’s development when they will achieve a significant milestone: tying their shoelaces!
There tends to be a misconception about when it is age-appropriate for children to tie their shoelaces. Typically, children don’t have the fine motor skills or coordination required to tie their shoelaces before school age. Many underlying skills are needed to execute the task, from finger isolation, dexterity, and bilateral coordination, so teaching kids from kindergarten above is a great starting point.
Now that we’ve set ourselves up for the challenge of teaching our kids to tie their shoelaces, we need to figure out which method is best! Several ways can work for your child, and alongside each, there are great fine motor benefits. Whichever way you choose, the most important thing to remember is to remain consistent as the task is tricky in itself!
Tips to Assist in Preparing for Tying Shoelaces
- Start by practising with the shoe of the foot – place it either on a flat surface or on your child’s lap. We encourage you to be seated from the child’s point of view, so your hands are positioned the same as theirs.
- Use two different coloured shoelaces as a visual prompt.
- Draw a line on each shoelace with a black marker as a visual guide for when the shoelaces meet.
- If fine motor skills are still developing, continue working on fun and innovative ways to work on the underlying skills needed!
- Use simple terms with one-step directions.
- Try backward chaining – complete the entire process yourself and let the child finish with the final step. Then, keep adding steps, so they are eventually completing the task themselves! This method will give your child a sense of accomplishment, motivating them to continue working on the entirety of the task.
- Or, you can try the opposite – forward chaining! Here, have the child complete the first step of the method, and you complete the rest. Then, add more steps each attempt, so the child learns the step-by-step process.
There is no right or wrong way to teach kids to tie their shoelaces. So, below are the steps involved and a video to support you with using both the ‘bunny ears’ and the traditional method:
- Take a shoelace in each hand.
- Cross one shoelace of the other shoelace halfway up the shoelaces.
- Take the end of one shoelace and place it over and under the other shoelace.
- Pull shoelaces tightly so the cross is resting on top of the shoe.
- Cross the shoelaces over the middle of each other.
- Take the top of one shoelace and put it over the other, poking it through the hole.
- Place your fingers on the inside of each shoelace, hold and pull tightly into a knot.
- Repeat steps 1-4 as above.
- Take one shoelace and make a small bunny ear.
- Grab the second shoelace and wrap it around your bunny ear, on top of your thumb.
- Thread the second shoelace through the gap between your pointer finger and thumb.
- Using both hands, place your fingers on the inside ends of each shoelace, hold and pull tightly into a knot.
Alternative Shoelace Options
Links to alternate shoelace options are below if your kids find it hard to complete either of the above methods.
Hickies – The tie-free shoelaces that transform any shoe into a slip-on
Laceez – Another option of tie-free shoelaces that offer a snug fit