Mister Man has some fine motor challenges. Needless to say, when he was little we always bought him shoes that had Velcro. Easy. Done. But as his feet started to grow when he got into kindergarten and first grade, suddenly it wasn’t so easy to find those Velcro shoes anymore. And in first grade, he started having cross country skiing as a gym activity, and those boots were only laces. And thus began my quest to teach kids to tie shoes, particularly my kids.
Fortunately in first grade they would help the kids tie their shoes, but they were told in the spring that they had to learn to tie “real” shoes or they weren’t going to be able to participate the next year. No big deal. I remember learning to tie my shoes when I was in kindergarten or first grade – mostly because Velcro didn’t exist in shoes back then and I had no choice.
I taught my tried and true method of making the loop and having the bunny get chased into the hole. Mister Man looked, watched, and told me he had it. But no matter how many times he tried, he couldn’t figure out which string to pull when he got to the last step, and inevitably, it would all fall apart. He was frustrated, I got frustrated, and we took a break.
Fortunately, he was in the midst of occupational therapy at the time, and his therapist offered to teach him to tie his shoes one day because that was a skill she had on her docket. She didn’t tell me in advance, but he came out of his session beaming like I hadn’t seen in a long time. It was pure pride on his face, and Andrea looked at me and announced that within a fifteen minute period, he had learned to tie his shoes.
All it took was a simple little trick that anyone can use to teach kids to tie shoes. I’ve used this trick to help friends teach kids to tie shoes since then, and it’s been a miracle worker. The key seems to be giving them a target so they know exactly what to grasp and pull at the end of the shoe tying to create the bow.
And yep, it’s worked for all of them so far. How about yours?