Should 5 and 6 Year Olds Tie Their Own Shoes?

The Question:
I’m working this summer with some kids between K and 1st grade…many of them have no clue about tying their shoes! This is something they should be able to do, right? Any fun ideas on helping them learn before September?
The Answers:
Maria Sykes
 I don’t think there’s any “should.” I think it is totally normal for kids to not know how to do this until late First Grade. I am teaching summer school to mostly first graders and I can say they all tie their shoes, but my regular K class will only have a few who can tie at the end of the year. There are cute poems and rhymes online that can help with the process. I teach it as pre-telling with first, next, then and finally tied with each step. There is a book “Big Kid Shoes” that I like for teaching the process, however developmentally some kids may not have the fine motor skills necessary for shoe tying yet.
Jennifer Mewhorter Bonds
Many don’t know how! I worked with my own 4, now 5 year old and so did his pre-K teachers. I took a shoe and he took a shoe and we sat side by side to practice so that we saw the laces from the same point of view. It just takes practice.
Stacy Henry 
Many of them still do not have coordination to do it! It is yet another thing we think kids should magically do at a younger age. Some can, some can’t! Practice !
Tina Rapp Adamson 
The same goes for riding a two-wheel bike ~ some have the coordination for it and some don’t ~ they all get there eventually!
Marybeth Simpson-Steeber
 Over the last 25 years, I’ve taught Pre-K through 2nd grade. Honestly, most kids CAN’T tie shoes until halfway through first grade. And it’s just a matter of practice. Every kid learns this, as everything else, at their own pace.
Elizabeth Barrett 
In my classroom, during center rotation there is a shoe-tying center…. I have a bin full of different types of lace-up shoes, and the children practice tying. I work with the children at this center until one child from each group has mastered the skill…. Then I allow the children to teach each other!
Vicki Oliver Krueger
 I have a “Shoe tying club” and if you can tie your shoes, you are a MEMBER and those members are asked to tie their friend’s shoes (I only tie shoes when no one else can) . . . Most times IF I tie a shoe, I ask them to show me what they know first, then show them the BUNNY EARS way or finish where they started. I always have THEM pull the bunny ears to tighten their laces.
Holly Bertram
 It’s a very difficult fine motor skill. Google the song ‘criss cross, I can tie my shoes’ song!
Melodie Jacobs
 I’ve taught K for 13 years. Somewhere in the middle I abandoned the whole shoe-tying thing. If I didn’t, that ALL I would ever do ALL DAY LONG! My policy for untied shoes is: Tie them yourself, ask a friend or tuck them in.
Marie Patterson Hanna
 Our OT said age 6 for tying shoes
Erin Herward Thurston 
I think shoe tying is hard. It’s great when a child can do it, but it doesn’t bother me when they can’t. I remember really struggling with it myself as a child and I am not pushing my own 5 year old to learn it.
Lynne Murray Smith
Now so many have velcro that there is less motivation to learn…only a few of my kids can tie each year.
Lisa Marbury Reasons
 My daughter was tying her shoes in pre-k. She taught herself by watching the shoe-tying episode of Calliou….make a tree, go around the tree & through the hole. I would google it & watch it & make it into a game!
Julie Peterson 
My opinion is that most parents are not willing to take the time to practice the skill with their children. It takes a lot of time. Fewer and fewer of my kindergarten students can tie shoes each year. I teach some, but a lot of families give up & just get slip-ons or velcro shoes. Finding a friend who can tie or tucking in the laces works sometimes, too. I have a big laminated shoe they sign when they can tie well, then others know who to ask for help.
Beth Sullivan Schladenhauffen
 Suggest Velcro until they can tie or even want to learn. I also use shoe tying club as a motivator! Don’t stress over this as it is developmental and requires motivation!
Melissa Mullin Beykirch
 It’s developmental – they will get it when they are ready.
Mary Griese Davis
Have a shoe tying club and allow those who know how to tie mentor those who don’t.
Nadine Inglis Berger
 This is where I draw the line in what I teach..this is the PARENTS’ job. We have taken on enough parenting responsibilities…I know of children who, in fifth grade, cannot tie their own shoes. I send this skill home as part of their homework beginning in the middle of the year. By February, they can not participate in recess unless their shoes are tied (safety reasons) and I will not tie them any longer. Great motivator…
Lynette Roby 
I send home a “Shoe-Tie Kit”, which is just a giant baggie with some ideas on teaching how to tie shoes, and a book about tying your shoes. It kind of puts it back on the parents, and gets the kids excited to learn. The books I use are: Red Lace, Yellow Lace and Don’t Lose Your Shoes.
Tina Yates Dunson
 After 22 years of teaching Pre-K and Kindergarten, I have learned that there is not enough time in the day to teach shoe tying. I tie shoes for my kids but only during certain times of the day and NEVER during circle time. For example, if a student comes to me with a question and I notice his/her shoe is untied, I will tie it while we talk – sort of a 2 for 1 deal. I encourage them to practice at home and offer a special button/award if they do learn to tie their shoes.
Sylvia Lusk Harwell 
When my son was small I bought him laces that were half blue and half white (one end blue and one end white). It was much easier for him to learn that way. It can get a little confusing when little ones are looking at all those laces going every which way. 🙂 I wouldn’t mind teaching the students to tie shoes if there was time. 30 years ago I did, without any problem. Now, there simply isn’t time! Back then we taught them the 26 letters and primary sound of each and maybe how to sound out c-v-c words. Now, well… you know. So many students don’t wear lace up shoes these days.
Sarah O’Connell 
Shoe tying center! The repeated practice at school really helps
Katharine Vera Noble 
My kids’ teacher held them responsible for shoe-tying after the first of the year (January of kindergarten).
Arlene Paxton
 I love all of your thoughts and ideas. I have been teaching K for 12 years and have tied many shoes, many times more than once in the same day. I also think it is the parents’ role to teach shoe tying. I always say I will tie until Christmas and then as a gift to me I ask them to learn to tie their shoes over the break. After that, they need to ask a friend to help or tuck them in. I may purchase a couple of books suggested to share with parents at back to school night. I love the two colored laces. I like the award idea, maybe a fun pair of shoe laces when they accomplish that goal.
Lisa Young
Now, if we could get shoe lacing companies to make shoelaces that actually stay tied – that would be half the battle. When I have to tie the same shoe over and over – then it’s the type of shoelace.
Maggie Combs
 My son’s problem was that he lost track which lace went where. What finally worked was we bought 2 pair of laces: one bright orange and another bright dark blue. I cut one of each colored pair in half then sewed opposite colors together. So I had 2 orange and blue laces. I then used those laces in his shoes. He tied his shoes correctly in 3 tries. Just sayin’.
Joyce Huddleston Johnson Raney 
Many of my K and 1st graders don’t know how to tie their shoes. I have the children teach each other.
Brenda Smith Browning 
Just keep modeling. It is a developmental thing and some children have trouble ’til they are 8 or 9 years old. Still, modeling and practice are the best things, in my experience.
Deborah Snyder
 Set up a center with boxes and strings and let them practice tying bows. You can also make a practice “shoe” out of card stock and reinforced holes. Try using thicker yarn at first on these…
Edie Naylor
 I agree with Nadine. Shoe tying is something kids need to learn at home. I suggest to parents that they get velcro sneakers until the kids learn or want to learn, since kids trip over laces and there are constant interruptions to tie shoes. I also have “official shoe tie-ers” in the room. The kids love to be able to get to that point. I do have lacing and tying centers, but it’s still up to the parents to teach that skill.
Jessica Marie 
Nope. It’s an age where many are still learning this. Have a list of kids that can tie and have the kiddos who can’t seek out the kids on the list to tie them for them
Elizabeth Lysa Vaughn 
Even my students who can tie their own shoelaces often fiddle with them and untie them. I promote velcro or stretch laces a lot!
Maria Lee Stipe
 I will assist with tying shoes until their 6th birthday. After that, it is find a friend or tuck them in. Scholastic also sells the two colored lace books. I buy these with my bonus points.
Rebecca J Henry
How do kids learn to tie shoes…crocs, aqua shoes, etc…why bother?
Cheryl Dycio
Encourage this skill at home. There is no time for it at school.
Donna Scheer
I got several books from Scholastic which talk about as well as teach with real laces. I send these home in their book bags for  home practice. We make a big deal out of kids who can add their name to the shoe-tiers chart. Occasionally I’ll set up a shoe tie center and let several children be the “teachers.”
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