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