The Hubs and I recently took our son out to buy some new sneakers and he protested the entire way. It’s not that he didn’t want new kicks, but rather he was unhappy with the type we told him he was going to get. For the first time in his six years of shoe-wearing, he would have laces instead of Velcro.
Why was he protesting? See, my kid is a whiz at figuring out video games and building intricate structures out of tiny LEGO pieces. He can also operate complex technology like our home computer, my iPhone and iPad better than his dad or I, but for some reason he thinks that tying his own shoes is a skill that is way too complicated and impossible for him to master.
The Hubs and I promised him that we’d help him with tying his shoes until he learned to do it himself and reassured him that his teacher would do the same should shoes come untied at school.
After just a few days of instruction, I thought things were going pretty well. My boy was already putting his sneakers on all by himself, without having to ask mom or dad for help. Well, that was until I actually watched him one morning putting his sneakers on. A-ha, what a clever boy! Apparently he was just slipping his feet in and out his already tied sneakers. He realized if he didn’t untie his already tied shoes (by mom, dad or teacher), he wouldn’t need to re-tie them the next day. But if he could figure out a solution to that complex problem, why can’t he tie his shoes?! I guess I’m partly to blame. I was the one who always got him Velcro sneakers – because I didn’t want to be tying his shoes all the time!
Now I remember when I was in kindergarten — way back when, 35 years ago to be exact – that in addition to knowing your letters, numbers, colors, days of the week, there were several motor skills you needed to have in order to “graduate” to 1st grade including tying a shoe, buttoning a shirt and using scissors. I guess schools don’t do that anymore, they focus more on academics and a student’s overall self-esteem and not everyday life skills.
I was both glad and horrified to discover though that we’re not the only ones left untied. I came across a British news story from 2012 that reported a study that showed fewer and fewer school children (aged 5-13) could tie their shoes before the age of six and that some even had difficulty tying their laces by age ten!
I can’t imagine my son being 10 and not knowing how to tie his own shoes! It just sounds lazy to me, so this week I’m putting my foot down, pun totally intended. It’s my mission to teach my son how to tie his own shoes in five days. Since bunny ears and loop it swoop it tying techniques didn’t work, I turned to the almighty Internet for suggestions.
Have you ever heard of “Magic Fingers?” No, we’re not talking vibrating beds from the 70s. This is a technique that claims to be able to teach kids in five minutes how to tie their shoes. Luckily there’s a video that actually shows you how to do it (and an actual six-year old girl doing it afterwards):
Here are the actual steps:
Step 1 – Cross the laces like normal
Step 2 – (Right Hand) Put your thumb and first finger in front of lace – fingers facing toward you (Left Hand) Put your thumb and first finger behind lace – fingers facing away from you
Step 3 - Pull your fingers forwards so you feel some tension and twist a little so that your fingers are facing each other.
Step 4 – Pinch the laces in between the opposite fingers
Step 5 – Pull through
Step 6 – You’re all tied!
Seems pretty easy right? It was for me until Step 2. I had a little trouble positioning my hands like the woman in the video, but that’s my own spastic problem. The other tricky part is knowing when to let go of the pinch and pull through.
Sneaker tying boot camp officially starts today. I showed the video to my son last night as a sneak peek and he was genuinely interested in it. He liked that it only had a few steps and said “oh, that looks easy.” I’m confident that he’ll be able to get the hang of it in no time, at least if this mom can accurately remember these steps!
Now it’s your turn to share. What technique did/will you use to show your child how to tie their shoes?
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