How To Tie Shoelaces

skills that kids need in order to learn to tie shoelaces

Teaching your child how to tie shoelaces requires much more than just sitting down with a pair of shoes and laces!

If you came across this page because you were looking for help, then you have probably already experienced the frustration of your child just not “getting it”!

Sometimes kids have not developed some of the underlying skills that can affect how easily they learn to tie their laces.

The Different Skills Needed For Tying Shoelaces:

1) Bilateral Coordination Skills

If your child finds it hard to get both hands to work together, then tying shoelaces can be very challenging.

Struggling with any of the following tasks may be an additional clue that your child is struggling with bilateral coordination:

  • battles to use a knife and fork
  • struggles to do buttons
  • ”forgets” to hold the paper down while drawing with the other hand
  • awkward scissor cutting skills (struggles to manipulate the paper while cutting out with scissors)

Try some bilateral coordination activities with your child to help boost this skill.

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2) Fine Motor Skills

If your child tends to avoid pencil-and-paper tasks, and struggles with other fine motor tasks such as scissor cutting and crafts, then perhaps it would be good to work on fine motor skills first.

Look through my extensive array of photographed fine motor activities and try and encourage your child to strengthen hand and finger muscles.

(My fine motor e-book is a really good way to access all these exercises easily.)

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3) Hand-Eye Coordination

Catching a ball, cutting on a line, and making neat handwriting patterns are all skills that require hand-eye coordination.

Tying shoe laces is no exception, as the eyes need to guide the hands in tying the laces.

If you think your child may benefit from hand-eye exercises, then check out my free activity suggestions here.

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4) Visual Perception

If your brain is not making sense of what your eyes are seeing, then you may struggle to see which lace is which, when they are overlapping and going around each other.

You could work on figure-ground perception, or any of the other visual perceptual skills if you think your child is struggling with this.

Dual colored laces like these ones from Easy Tie  are absolutely brilliant for helping kids who struggle to understand how to tie shoelaces when the laces seem to merge into each other.

(See my photos of their laces in action!)

Their textured shoelaces can also help kids who are visually impaired.

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5) Tactile Perception

Basically, this is your child’s ability to know what the fingers are doing without being able to see what they are doing.

When tying laces, there is a lot of “feeling” going on – your child needs to feel where and how the laces overlap, and “pull through” without really being able to see the fingers properly.

Try some fun tactile perception activities with your child to help boost this skill.

Easy Tie also have some textured shoelaces that can help children who have real difficulty in this area.

Memory Ties produce shoelaces which hold their shape, making it easier for kids with poor tactile perception to manipulate.

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Can Special Laces Help Your Child Learn How To Tie Shoelaces?

Here are some pics of how stiffer, dual-colored shoelaces worked for my daughter who was struggling to work with the floppy white laces in her shoes:

The stiffer laces make great "bunny ears", and were much easier for my daughter to handle than the floppy laces that came with her shoes.

Stiffer Laces Help

With dual-colored laces, she was quickly able to see how to push one lace under another.

She had previously struggled with this concept.

Dual Colors Help

The finished, tied, shoelaces. She was so proud!

We received some laces free in return for an honest review - I am impressed with them!


If you are interested, head over to Easy Tie to view their laces for themselves.

Once you have helped your child with some of the underlying skills that may be weak, hop on over to Ian’s Shoelace Site  if you want photographed step by step instructions on the different methods of learning how to tie shoelaces.

Or practice with Memory Tie Shoelaces, which can help your child grow in confidence with tying laces.

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I have written this from an occupational therapy perspective to try and help you understand WHY your child may be struggling to learn how to tie shoelaces, and why they may not yet be ready to tie shoelaces if some of their other skills are weak.

If you are at all concerned about your child's overall development, please see a health professional or make an appointment with your local pediatric occupational therapist for an assessment. This page is not intended to diagnose or treat your child!

Thank you for visiting my site! I hope you found this article useful!

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