Feed Me Books Friday: Velcro?

Friday, October 14, 2011

Independence versus Skills
My son’s teacher has a shoe-tying policy. I haven’t decided if I find it funny or disturbing. I’m navigating this new world of not knowing EVERY SINGLE DETAIL of what goes on in the classroom, and I’m trying not to rush to judgment. She mentioned her policy at back to school night. Children who have not learned to tie their shoes by Halloween should wear Velcro because she will not be tying them in November. In some ways, this is a very logical, common sense position: 64 untied shoelaces could take up the bulk of her just-over-3-hour session. At the same time, isn’t there a difference between the child who is chronically dragging his untied shoelaces along behind him and the one who is struggling with the dexterity and has an occasional moment of frustration? (Even writing this, I’m feeling like an enabler…)
Make it IM-personal
B has started to practice shoe-tying. He WANTS to be able to do it. He tied his own shoes every day of our recent trip (even though I sometimes had to re-tie later) and even tied his brother’s (which is no easy task on a squirmy 2 year old). But this week he’s back to wanting me to do it, which I believe is thanks to a combination of morning sluggishness and a lack of confidence in his (often loose) tying abilities. He is concerned they’ll come undone at school and he’ll either have to take the time to fix them or ask for help. Some of the best advice I’ve read about teaching  to tie shoes is to remove the pressure of getting ready and make it more maneuverable at the same time by having them practice on someone else’s (often larger) shoe whether or not it is currently on a foot. So when I saw Don’t Lose Your Shoes in the scholastic book order from B’s preschool teacher last spring, I thought it would be a great practice tool! The book has a three part cover. A laced-up “shoe” panel folds open next to the pages bound between the front and back so that children can practice the actions along with the story. The text tells the plight of Eric, a monkey who is plagued by untied shoes tripping him up at the playground. With the help of some animal friends, Eric learns to lace and tie his shoes. Each page of the book illustrates a different step in the process as Eric learns it. Children can follow along on the shoelace panel. The inside cover also has a visual reminder of the steps for practice. Following the steps in the story produces a double-loop or “bunny ear” style knot and bow. If intend to teach your child a different tactic, this story won’t be much good to you. Otherwise, the story is engaging, the tool is useful, and the connection of a narrative to the manipulation of the laces might just be the bridge between cognitive and physical development that your child needs.
Appropriate for preschoolers, (and primary students still practicing).
So help me out, do you think the teacher is using humor to encourage parents to work on this skill at home, or do you think she’s a burned-out shoe-tier? Should I be pushing the practice with laces or shopping for Velcro and cinch-ups? Is one tying method superior to another? Should I teach more than one to see if it comes easier or will that just confuse him? Hope you’ll help me out! (and share what you’re reading, too!)

photo courtesy kasahara on flickr


JDaniel4's Mom October 14, 2011 at 3:57 AM  

This looks like a great teaching book. We haven't started with shoes yet.

Amanda October 14, 2011 at 6:33 AM  

I think it is a good thing that she is letting parents know her expectations. Too many parents are choosing to not teach their children things that take time and effort. It is much easier to let them play "educational games" on the computer. Too many kids in my opinion do not know these basic skills. I bet that most of her students will learn because the parents will now take the time to teach their children. As a K teacher that was one thing that I didn't do was tie shoes. I would tell them to ask a friend. That way the students would teach each other AND the safety issue of untied shoes was fixed.

Brimful Curiosities October 14, 2011 at 9:41 AM  

I learned to tie my shoes in kindergarten and was rather shocked my daughter's teacher did not work on that skill last year. I've worked with her on it and she can do it herself but not quickly. I've only taught her one method. That's enough for her to practice right now. I've also encouraged her to tie bows in her doll's hair as well to allow her to work with other types of tying material. For the record, she wears shoes with velcro to school because when winter and snow arrives the shoes go on and off a lot more. She already has enough to worry about at school without adding the shoe hassle to her list.

Jackie H. October 16, 2011 at 11:18 AM  

As a parent, I would feel exactly the same way as you do... wanting to understand where the teacher is coming from, etc. I think it's a little bold of a teacher, personally, I'm not sure I would know exactly how to take it. It could be frustrating for a parent to think, my child doesn't know this yet now he has to wear velcro so how will he learn?
As a former first grade teacher, I do understand her point, though. It can be maddening to deal with untied shoe laces all day. My policy always was to tell the kids who couldn't tie to ask a friend to tie for them. It gave the friend extra practice. Generally the kids would figure out who the best "shoe tier" was and that kid would get a little self confidence boast. Generally all the kids learn to tie their shoes. The book looks great except I didn't usually teach that method to kids. I prefered the "loop it, swoop it, put it in the basket" method. They loved that way and the shoes stayed tied longer than the bunny ears, I felt.

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