In my opinion, THE hardest fine motor skill for kids to learn is the art of tying their shoelaces.
When Shoebuy.com, an online retailer of shoes and accessories for men, women and children offered to sponsor a giveaway, it seemed like the perfect time to share some of my favorite tips on how to help kids tie their shoes!
For kids who struggle with learning the steps of this major life skill, slip-on shoes are so fashionable these days, it can be even more challenging for kids to learn how to master the steps because exposure and opportunities for practice are infrequent.
As an occupational therapist it’s my job to teach kids life skills that require fine motor coordination and I’ve taught dozens of kids to tie their shoes. While I’d say that most 5 or 6-year-old child in Kindergarten are usually capable of learning to tie their own shoes, I’m noticing it has become the norm for kids in 2nd or even 3rd grade to not have a clue about the process or a care in the world to master it.
Here are some of my favorite tips on how to help kids tie their shoelaces. Afterwards, scroll down and enter a $50 Shoebuy.com giveaway! Buy something for yourself, purchase your kids those super-cool lace-up sneakers and set a New Year’s resolution to help your child learn this essential life skill with as few tears as possible.
1. Kids need to be motivated, interested and ready for the challenge. Don’t set an unrealistic expectation that it will only take 1 demonstration for them to learn it without repeated practice. Set a date to start involving your child in the process, but for the first several days just encourage them to watch you tie their shoes, while you demonstrate the steps.
2. Most of us are rushing around in the morning, so find a time to practice when it’s quiet and stress-free, not in the hustle and bustle of chaos.
3. Personally, I think the “bunny ears” method many people think kids enjoy is actually harder because both hands need to do the exact same thing, at the same time. Stick to the traditional way of making one loop, then wrapping the lace around it.
4. Tying laces with kids wearing their shoes is also a challenge until they’ve learned the steps. Find an old pair of laced shoes with long laces. Have them sit at the table and practice with this shoe until they understand and can demonstrate the process before having them tie shoes while they are on their feet.
5. Knot together 2 different, brightly colored laces, then thread the practice shoe. It’s often easier for kids to learn the steps when they can observe the direction the laces are moving.
6. Practice every single day for a short period of time. I generally recommend attempting the activity 5 times in a row for a 5 year-old, 6 times in a row for a 6 year-old, etc. This is a complicated process that dedication and repeated practice.
7. Search online for shoe tying songs and videos that interest your child, these visual demonstrations paired with songs often help chidren remember the steps quickly.
8. Unless it’s part of a school uniform, buy a pair of lace-up sneakers or shoes because the opportunity will present itself more frequently when the laces become untied.
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