“Stop touching your shoelaces.” I say this sentence every morning, like a robot during morning meeting. I see 16 sweet sleepy eyes looking back at me and I know they just want something to fidget with while we sing our morning songs and share our happy thoughts for the day.
In kindergarten it’s a daily thing. They come to school with their shoes tied with double knots and somehow throughout the day their shoes come untied. Sometimes the culprit can be their own fidgety fingers; other times it’s a distraction from their sight word work. The tough part is that many children either can’t tie their shoes or really want to try and end up with a really big mess of a knot (yikes!).
Shoe-tying is like learning to ride a bike. You just have to keep trying it. It takes a lot of patience, technique, confidence, and bravery. Eventually, you’ll get it on our own and everyone will be so proud.
Parents, don’t stress.
My own child who is five cannot tie her shoes without my help. It will come. Just like peeing on the potty, using a fork, and learning to write their name. It will come to them someday like a light bulb. Kids have different talents that make them special. Some kids are just little shoe-tying wizards, while others take a little more time to get there.
Below are some shoe-tying tips you may want to incorporate when teaching your child:
1. Teach double knots
After you get the shoe-tying down, make double knot tying a habit. Shoelaces come untied often and easily. This is dangerous for the little ones and sometimes they can trip over their own feet before anyone knows their shoes are untied. Double knots or even triple-knots are a good reinforcement for the laces during a busy play day.
2. Praise them
Some children just happen to have incredible small motor skills combined with that “light bulb moment.” These children are pretty special because they are great teacher helpers. When we are standing in the lunch line or playing outside, they are the ones who learn how to help their friends. Let them show their family members and help others learn. Shoe-tying is a huge accomplishment!
3. Keep practicing and trying new techniques
If they don’t get it, try something new. I’ve seen children try something a different way and it just clicks. Bunny ears stressing you out? Try something else. This website lists several different tying techniques. Find one that clicks with your child. Currently, I’m working with my daughter on the Ian knot. She is actually doing a great job with it, but we are still working on her doing it independently. I think it will take a few weeks, but this is probably our “forever knot.” There are a few other new ideas to try here and here.
4. Practice and patience
Be careful not to burn them out, because after all, they are little and can get discouraged easily. Their small motor skills are working hard and still developing. If they aren’t getting it, take a break for a few days and try another technique. It’s OK if they don’t understand. Someday they will.