Tying shoes is a significant developmental skill. In previous generations, children mastered the art of tying their laces before Kindergarten. These days, with the popularity of slip-on, zip-up, flip-flop or Velcro shoes, the age at which a child masters this skill is progressively higher. One easy way to teach a child to tie shoes is to use a rhyme that serves as a reminder of the motions involved.
Recite the rhyme: "Bunny ears, bunny ears, playing by a tree. Criss-crossed the tree, trying to catch me. Bunny ears, Bunny ears, jumped into the hole, popped out the other side beautiful and bold."
Repeat the rhyme while demonstrating the movements that correspond with each phrase. Hold one lace in each hand and cross them to form an "X." Hold both laces in one hand. With your free hand, bring one lace under the other and pull tightly on both laces. This is the "tree."
Take each lace and form a large loop. Hold one loop in each hand. These are the "bunny ears." Indicate each loop as you say, "Bunny ears, bunny ears, playing by a tree."
Say "Criss-crossed the tree," and make an "X" with the ears. Continue on with, "trying to catch me."
Say "Bunny ears, bunny ears jumped into the hole," and push one of the bunny ears into the hole you created at the bottom of the centre of the laces when you crossed them.
Finish the rhyme with "Popped out of the other side beautiful and bold," and grab the loop as it's coming through the hole. Pull both bunny ears tightly, tying the shoe.
Give the child a shoe and repeat the rhyme, with the actions, having him follow your movements. Repeat until he seems comfortable with it.
- Replace corded and coiled no-tie laces with standard flat laces. Avoid round "fashion" laces, which are more difficult to tie and tend to come untied sooner.
- Help the child remember the movements and the rhyme, but do not tie your child's shoes for her after a week of practice.
- Shoe laces are a choking hazard for very small children.