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Top 6 Tips for Teaching Kids to Tie their Shoes

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Though most kids' shoes now feature Velcro closures, learning to tie ones own shoes is still considered to be milestone that children should master by 5 or 6 years of age. But, teaching a child to tie his own shoes can be frustrating; kids can lose interest quickly if they feel the task is too difficult, or they may seem to "get it" one day only to completely forget the next.

Have no fear, I've got a few tricks up my sleeves that can make teaching a kid to tie his own shoes a bit easier. All kids learn differently, so try a few of these methods and see what works best for your child.

1. Bunny Ears

Probably the most common method for teaching kids to tie their own shoes is the "Bunny Ears" method.

  • Tell the child that he needs to make his shoe laces into "bunny ears."
  • First, he needs to secure a knot for the bunny's head. Take the laces and cross them over to make an "X". Then, pull one ear through the bottom of the "X" and pull tight.
  • Say, "Now we need to give bunny some ears." Loop the laces into "bunny ears".
  • Tell the child that now we need to "make the bunny ears tight so they don't fall off". Then make another "X" using the "bunny ears", slide one "ear" under the "X" and pull tightly.
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2. Bi-Colored Laces

This is a great tip that can really make learning to tie much easier. Take two laces in two different colors and cut them down the middle. Then sew them together to make two bi-colored laces. Lace a pair of old shoes with these funny shoes strings. Using bi-colored laces can really help a kid who has trouble remembering his right from his left. You can use any learning-to-tie method in combination with your bi-colored laces.

3. Cardboard Cut-Out Shoe

Take a cardboard box and cut out an over-sized shoe shape. Have your kid decorate the shoe in any way he wishes. Using a pen, poke holes for laces. Use the bi-colored lace tip above, but instead of cutting the original laces in two, use two entire laces sewn together to create one long, bi-colored shoe string. Lace the shoe and use any teaching method, using this cut-out. Some kids find it easier and more interesting to practice on an over-sized model.

4. The Squirrel and the Tree

This is a fun method that utilizes a kid friendly story and movements that help kids understand and remember the basic steps to shoe tying.

  • Tell the child to create "tree roots" by making a starter knot.
  • Make a tree with a long thin loop; hold the loop in the child's right hand.
  • With his left hand, take hold of the lace and tell him that a squirrel runs around the tree and jumps into the hole under the tree and comes out the other side (he'll need to switch hands at this point which can be difficult for some kids).

Many parents prefer this trick because it teaches the kid to tie shoes with the single loop method.



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5. Loop It and Swoop It

This is a less childish, but still memorable way of teaching a child to tie in the traditional single loop method. Teach your child to tie his shoes using the standard tying method, but as you go through the motions say, "loop it, swoop it, pull." Do this over and over while repeating the same three, simple instructions until your child is able to tie his shoes on his own. Encourage him to say "loop it, swoop it, pull" each time he attempts tying his shoes until it becomes second nature.

6. Learning to Tie Toys and Books

If you want to make learning to tie more fun, consider getting your child a toy or book that will help him learn to tie on his own. This is especially helpful for kids who learn best through interaction with toys. Some suggestions:
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Tips for Teaching Kids to Tie Shoes

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