Learning to tie your own shoe laces is a tricky fine motor skill for children, but with patience and practice parents can teach their child to tie their own laces.
Velcro school shoes may make parenting easier, but they also threaten to destroy a childhood rite of passage – learning to tie your own shoe laces. Tying your own shoe laces requires a level of dexterity most kids don’t possess until they’re between five and seven, so take it slow.
The easy bunny ears method of tying laces
Two bunny ears help the child tie a square knot, one of the easiest knots to learn. Try teaching this:
- Fold each end of the lace into a single “bunny ear.” You can hold the “ears” in place between your thumb and pointer finger on each hand.
- Cross the bunny ears so that they form an “X” in the air.
- Loop the bottom bunny ear over and through the top bunny ear. This will create a second knot.
- Pull the bunny ears out to the side away from the shoe. This will create a square knot that will not easily come undone and will hold the shoe in place.
How to tie a shoe lace the more complicated way
Step 1: Take one lace in each hand and make an X.
Draw the top lace through the bottom of the X and pull the two laces tight. Then make a loop out of each lace.
Step 2: Cross the bunny ears over each other
Cross one “ear” over the other, in the opposite order of your overhand knot.
Step 3: Run the bunny ears over each other
Explain how “the bunny runs around the tree” by bending one loop over the other.
Step 4: See the bunny jump in a hole
Now “the bunny sees a dog and jumps in the hole”: Pass the tip of the bent ear through the hole.
Step 5: Pull loops tight
For extra security, you can double the knot by making another overhand knot with the loops.
Practise tying laces with your child until he can do it himself. Using the Do Up 4Ways cushion can be helpful. Before you know it, you can throw out the Velcro shoes and your child will have mastered some fine motor skills that will help in other areas of learning.
Zip it up
Once your child can put on a jacket, they will be eager to learn how to zip it up, but it takes time to master this complicated skill.
“Zipping up takes fine motor skills and motor planning, which means thinking through the steps you need to take in the order you need to take them “And then you have to put the steps into practice. That’s hard for kids.”
Learn the parts of a zipper
While you probably won’t use all of these terms when teaching your child to zip – you’re more likely to say “Now you pull this part down to the bottom” and so on.
- The teeth: the pieces that run along the edge of each half of the zipper
- The pin: the long, thin rectangular piece at the bottom of one set of teeth
- The box: the square at the bottom of the other set of teeth
- The slider: the mechanism that moves up and down and should sit right above the box when it’s at the bottom
- The pull-tab: the piece attached to the slider that acts as a handle
- Push the slider all the way down so it’s resting on top of the box
- Using both hands, have your child grab hold of the bottom of each zipper side
- Have your child pick up the side of the cushion zip with the pin in it and slide the pin into the box on the side of the cushion with the slider. Make sure the pin goes all the way through the slider and into the box. This is the tricky part. If the two pieces are not completely connected, your child won’t be able to pull up the zipper. Ask your child to grab the pull-tab and slide it up while holding tight to the bottom of the jacket where the pin and box are connected. They should continue sliding the zipper…
Button Up Info
Check to make sure the hole is aligned with the button.
Have your child pinch the button between their thumb and index finger (thumb on back of button, tip of index finger on front).
With their hand, have the child grasp the edge of the placket, next to the buttonhole, and gently pull it away from them.
This will cause the hole to open slightly, making it easier to insert the button. Inserting a bit of thumb into the buttonhole can also help.
Encourage your child to push one edge of the button through the hole and grab it with the thumb and index finger. This is the trickiest part and will require practice and coordination.
Once your child gets a grip on the button have them pull it all way through the hole.
Check to make sure the poppets our aligned with each other. Have your child pinch the poppets between their thumb and index finger and press down on poppet (thumb on top of poppets).