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Help Kids Learn About Shoes: Tying & Learning Left from Right

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Help Kids Learn About Shoes: Tying & Learning Left from Right

When you first start putting shoes on your new baby, it’s nothing short of adorable. Teensy little booties and socks to match, picking out something to go with a new outfit or for a special occasion is a joy, and putting them on little feet is no big deal.

Fast forward a couple of years as you struggle to get a wiggly toddler to sit still long enough to put on shoes, and try to cope with a little one who is determined to be barefoot—even in the winter. Once you reach this stage, you start counting down the days until your children can handle their shoes independently. Here are a few tips to help them get there.

Identifying the Correct Shoe

Aside from potentially causing a bit of discomfort, it won’t hurt your child for her to wear her shoes on the wrong feet. Of course, you may find it aggravating, and you’ll probably have several well-meaning strangers point out that they’ve been put on incorrectly. If your child struggles to get their shoes on the right foot, try:

  • Writing part of the child’s name on the back of the left shoe, and the rest on the right. When the shoes are properly aligned, her name will be spelled correctly.
  • Place a small pin or bead on the left shoe. If he’s not sure which foot is his left, have him hold his hands out in front of him with thumbs out. The left one makes an “L.”
  • Most shoes will make a circle or oval in the center when they’re placed correctly, and look a bit like a set of wings when they’re not. If they’re not placed correctly, they may fly away!

Learning to Tie Shoes

Tying shoes is an advanced skill that most kids will not master until they are 4 or 5, and some aren’t proficient until 6 or 7. You can start working with younger kids who seem interested or want to be independent, but trying to push this skill too soon may only end up in frustration. If your child has mastered scissors, and can button shirt buttons, he is probably ready to give shoelaces a try.

When you’re starting your first lessons, let your child try with an adult shoe. The larger size can make the demonstration and practice a bit easier for small hands. Practice tying while sitting at a table as it will be much easier than trying to reach down. It can be helpful to knot the ends of the shoelaces while practicing as this will stop the ends from being pulled through and causing frustration.

If you have not tried the “Ian Knot” method of tying shoes, take a look at this page that has a step-by-step diagram. For many kids, this process is much easier to master than the two loops (or bunny ears) or the standard knot.

Practice Makes Perfect

As with all new skills, lots of practice will help your child master what they’ve learned. Try to avoid being in a rush so you can be patient with slow fingers that need a bit of extra time. 

Tags: Tie Shoes


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