Despite what you might think, teaching your child to tie their shoelaces is a significant milestone in their development, marking a step towards independence.

Moving from Velcro fasteners to traditional laces can be exciting, but also challenging. Here are some of our tips to make this learning process enjoyable and successful.

Choose the Right Shoes

  • Begin by selecting the right pair of kid's shoes. Look for ones with firm, round laces as they are easier to grip and tie compared to flat or slightly silky ones.
  • The eyelets should be large enough for little fingers to manoeuvre the laces through.
  • Initially, choose shoes with a single-colour lace, as multi-coloured or patterned laces can be distracting.

Demonstrate Slowly

Children learn best by observing and imitating. Sit opposite your child and slowly demonstrate the process of tying laces. Use simple language and break down the process into small, easy-to-understand steps.

You’ll probably need to repeat the process several times before they get the hang of things and can be trusted to tie their laces on their own.

Hand-Over-Hand Guidance

After demonstrating, guide your child's hands through the process. This hand-over-hand technique allows them to feel the movements and understand how to manipulate the laces. Be patient and offer encouragement throughout. It’s also a perfect way to bond with your child.

Use a Practice Board

Some people use a practice board before getting the shoes. This can be a homemade board with laces pushed through. The board should be placed on a flat surface at a comfortable height for your child and you can then follow the steps above.

The 'Bunny Ears' Technique

This involves creating two loops (or 'bunny ears') and then tying them together. This method is often easier for children as it requires less dexterity than the traditional method.

  • Like any skill, learning to tie shoelaces requires practice and everyone is different. Encourage your child to practice regularly, ideally at a calm time of day when they are not feeling rushed or pressured.
  • It’s important to be patient and offer lots of praise and encouragement. Celebrate their efforts and progress, no matter how small, to keep them motivated.
  • Perhaps incorporate stories or songs about tying shoes into the learning process. This can make the activity more fun and memorable. For example, create a story about a rabbit who needs to tie his 'ear' loops to stay safe in the forest.

If your child becomes frustrated, take a break and revisit the task later. Remind them that it’s normal to find new skills challenging and that it’s okay to take their time learning. They’ll get it eventually!

Transition Gradually from Velcro

Begin by having your child wear laced shoes during a specific time of the day or for certain activities. As they become more confident, they can start wearing them more frequently. Of course, some kids as they get older still prefer Velcro so you don’t have to get rid of these types of shoes completely.

By selecting the right shoes, demonstrating the technique, using a practice board, incorporating fun elements, and gradually transitioning from Velcro shoes, you can help your child master this essential skill. Again, remember every child learns at their own pace, so celebrate each small step along the way.

January 19, 2024 — Matilda Wilkinson