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Teaching your child how to tie shoelaces is 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”!
There may be some basic underlying skills that your child needs to learn first.
If tying shoelaces is a battle ground, step back and work on some other basic skills first.
Click on the quick links to see how different skills can affect tying shoelaces, or scroll through them all to see what your child may be struggling with.
If your child finds it hard to get both hands to work together, then tying shoelaces can be very challenging.
Struggling with these other skills may be a clue:
Try these bilateral coordination activities with your child to help boost this skill.
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 e-book is a really good way to access all these exercises in a user-friendly way.)
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.
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.
Dual colored laces like the ones above from Tying Is A Snap 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.
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 boost this skill.
Tying Is A Snap also have some textured shoelaces that can help children who have real difficulty in this area.
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 new 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.
With dual-colored laces, she was quickly able to see how to push one lace under another.
She had previously struggled with this concept.
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 Tying Is A Snap to view their laces for themselves (I am not an affiliate for them).
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.
I have written this from an occupational therapist’s 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!
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