Learning to tie shoelaces




Learning to tie shoelaces is an important skill for both children and parents. Indeed, it is a step for the child allowing him to gain in autonomy and thus to support the social link: at the level of the everyday life (one puts his shoes to leave home and to go towards the other one, to go to have fun with his friends, to go to see the family...) and of the schooling (one puts his shoes in sport, after the swimming pool...). What a pride once you know how to tie your shoes by yourself! For parents, it is also a key step: no more need to help your child to put on his shoes in the morning before school, what a time saver!

As for any learning, it is necessary that the child is ready, it requires time, to be accompanied by an adult and to be adapted to the child's capacities.


Complex and multifactorial learning


Tying shoelaces is a skill that is generally learned around the age of 6-7 years, although it is often introduced in kindergarten around the age of 5 years. It is a complex and multifactorial learning process, so it is normal that some children take longer or have more difficulties with it.  It is important to give them time beforehand to acquire certain essential skills (so that they have all the prerequisites for learning to tie their shoes) and thus avoid discouraging them. 


Several factors to start learning to tie your shoes


1/ Motivation

                  First of all, the first aspect to take into account is obviously the motivational aspect since it is an indispensable element for any new learning. 


There are two types of motivation: intrinsic motivation and extrinsic motivation:

  • Intrinsic motivation is linked to the desire to learn, to the satisfaction one gets from it: "I managed to tie my shoes alone"
  • Extrinsic motivation is linked to the feeling of having to carry out this activity: to please parents, because classmates are doing it...


2/ Visual perception and visuo-spatial analysis skills

                  A second prerequisite for beginning to learn to tie shoelaces is to have good visual perception and visuo-spatial analysis skills.  It is necessary that the notions related to spatial vocabulary be acquired to allow the child to mentally represent the gestures to be made (under, in front, behind, over, etc.).


But it is also necessary to understand and perceive the movements (folding, wrapping around, pulling, tightening, etc.), the positions of the laces, the sizes of the loops...


3/ Motor skills

                  For the learning of laces, it is also important that certain fine motor skills are acquired. For example, the child must have sufficient digital dissociation skills to be able to oppose the thumb with each of his other fingers without looking at his hand.


In connection with visual-spatial skills, the child must also be able to make a mental representation and perform movements such as folding, wrapping around, pulling, squeezing...


4/ Operational skills

                  Learning to tie shoelaces also involves complex cognitive processes: executive functions. They are involved in the regulation of thoughts, emotions and behaviors and allow the child to act in an organized manner and to plan a series of actions in order to achieve the goals he or she sets. 


Tying shoelaces is a task with different steps to follow. If the notion of planning is still difficult for the child, it is possible to help him/her by proposing a visual support showing the succession of steps to be carried out in order to tie his/her shoelaces.


Some tips for parents


                  As soon as the child shows interest in learning to tie his shoes by himself, it is important to accompany this learning process:


  • By associating it with a playful aspect to make him want to learn
  • By breaking down the steps and taking the time:

It is possible to only show him at first and then to include him in the realization of the gestures.

It is possible to propose to the child a visual to help him to remember and to locate himself in the steps to be carried out.

  • We can also propose games of manipulation of small objects in order to accompany the development of the fine motor skills and to solicit the bimanual coordination.
  • Taking into account the child's rhythm: logically, this step comes after dressing, but it is also possible to educate the child before if he shows interest in learning to tie his shoes.
  • Encouraging him to plan certain tasks in his daily life to improve his planning and organizational skills.
  • We can also value his skills and progress in order to boost his self-confidence.


3 learning techniques


                  Several steps may be necessary to learn to tie your shoes:

  • Learn to tie: know how to thread a lace through the holes of the shoes
  • Learn to tie the first simple knot before the buckles
  • Learn to tie shoelaces with a story 
  • Learn to tie shoelaces on their own without the story


It is important to learn quickly with real shoes and in the position in which the child will have to tie his shoes in order to work in a real situation in his environment. Several techniques exist to break down the steps to be performed and give them more meaning to help the child in this learning process. It is therefore a matter of associating a story featuring animals with motor gestures. There are several stories and many variations, it is important to choose the one that corresponds to the child's abilities and to what he likes. It's even better if you adapt the story to his tastes!


The snake

Rose et Gris Simple Carte heuristique (1200 x 768 px) (1500 x 768 px)

The Caterpillar and the Butterfly

Sans titre (2000 x 924 px) (5000 x 924 px) (5000 x 1300 px)

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