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How to teach kids to tie shoe laces

There are a great many milestones parents celebrate as their little ones grow. Smiling, sleeping through the night, solid food, first steps, potty trained, first day of school. All Insta-worthy celebrations for parents to share. One notable milestone for the little ones themselves is successfully tying their first shoe lace.

Many of us can recall the sense of achievement at a young age when we first tied a shoe lace. There are many ways to teach little ones how to master tying shoes laces, here are our favourite ways to teach your kids to tie their shoes.

Ways to teach your kids to tie their shoes

It can be tricky to show your little one how to tie a lace, when your fingers are so much bigger than theirs and can get in the way. One of our favourite ways is to make it a fun crafting activity too, by re-using one of our shoe boxes to create a model foot for the little one to practice on.

We also suggest finding a pair of ‘grown-up’ shoes with laces for your child to choose before they begin as an incentive to learn quickly so their new shoes will arrive! Take a look at this pair.

How to teach tying laces

Creating a cardboard cut-out model:
Step 1: Take one of our shoe boxes, turn it upside down and place your child’s shoe on it. Keep the shoe box lid safe to one side.
Step 2: Hold the shoe in place and get your child to draw around the outside of the shoe.
Step 3: Cut out the shoe outline.
Step 4: Use a robust hole punch (one you would use for a leather belt) to punch four holes down the left side of the cut out and then opposite each whole, punch another four on the right side of the cut out. So these holes act as the eyelet for the shoe.
Step 5: Ask your child to decorate the cardboard so that it looks like their shoe.
Step 6: Glue the outline to the lid of the shoe box so it’s easier to hold.
Step 7: Poke holes into the lid, underneath the holes in the outline.
Step 8: Thread your child’s shoe laces through the holes, in whatever pattern most appeals to your child.
Step 9: Now the shoelaces are in place, you are ready to teach your eager little one how to tie!

The ‘bunny ears’ method

It’s useful for children to either learn by humming the instructions to a tune, or to learn the key instructions in sequence, as below with the bunny ears method, this would be: Knot; Bunny Ear; Wrap; Bunny Ear; Whiskers.
Step 1. Knot: Sit behind your child and guide their hands with your own. Hold a lace in each hand and do the initial cross and tighten by crossing them into an X, then tucking one lace under the other and pulling both laces tight.
Step 2. Bunny ear: Using one lace, create a loop to look like a bunny's ear, and pinch it closed in your child's fingers. Do the same with the second lace, so you now have two laces looking like bunny ears.
Step 3.Wrap: Cross the loop in the left hand behind the one in the right hand leaving a space between the loops and the knot made at the beginning.
Step 4. Bunny ear: Push the left bunny ear through the hole.
Step 5. Whiskers: Pull both ears to tighten. The ends of the laces become "whiskers" and should be around the same length as the ears.

The ‘round the tree’ method

Another learning method you might have heard people talk about because it’s a more the standard approach to tying shoe laces.
Step 1. Knot: The same as the bunny ears method. Hold a lace in each hand and do the initial cross and tighten by crossing them into an X, then tucking one lace under the other and pulling both laces tight.
Step 2. Loop: Create a loop with your right-hand lace and pinch it closed in your child's fingers.
Step 3. Wrap: Take the left shoelace and wrap it around the loop until it encircles it completely and leave a small hole between the loop and the lace that has been pulled around.
Step 4. Feed: Feed the left shoelace into the hole so that it also becomes a loop.
Step 5. Pull: Pull both loops until the knot is firmly tied.

Watch our short instructional film here to help teach your child on this traditional ‘round the tree’ method.

What age should children learn to tie their shoes?

Tying shoe laces is better for children aged four and upwards as at this point they have the motor skills necessary for the job. Until then, most of our First Shoes include rip-tape fastening so little ones can grow in confidence with their independence, and parents can leave the house in a timely manner!

Read our blog for more ideas on helping your pre-schooler grow in confidence and get ready for school.