In our previous column, we talked about how educating children to tie their own shoelaces could help them foster a more active attitude toward life. In today’s article, we are going to dig a bit deeper and show how shoelace-tying support their psychological development.
Before we get to the psychological benefits of learning to tie shoelaces, let’s go over the steps of tying shoelaces. Perhaps you are thinking, “It’s just tying those laces up. Easy. Piece of cake. What’s that worth knowing about?” Don’t you forget, we are talking about teaching kids as young as five to tie their shoes.
Besides, here’s a challenge for you: verbally describe in detail the specific steps of shoelace-tying. Do you think you can complete this task with full confidence?
It’s hard, just thinking about it, right?
Alright, stop resisting. Let’s just quickly review the steps.
Steps for Tying Shoelaces
According to two developmental psychologists, Michael Mascolo and Kurt Fischer (2010), we can separate the shoelace-tying process into 12 parts:
- Cross the two tips/heads of a shoelace over one another
- Pull Tip A and drop Tip B
- Pull out Tip B from underneath Tip A
- Pull tight of the two strings to fix the first knot
- Use your thumb and index finger to pinch the middle of one string
- Take the pinch down in alignment with the string to form a hole
- Hold the hole with one hand while pulling the other string (String B) with the empty hand
- Form a loop around the hollow with String B (sits a little above the hole)
- Come to a joint between the index finger fixing String B and the thumb holding the hole
- Push String B through the hole with the index finger holding it
- Pull out the String B from the circle
- Pull the two strings (now two holes). Task completed!
After literally going through the 12 steps of tying shoelaces, don’t you feel that this task is not in any way easy? Indeed, for young beginners, shoelace-tying is truly an excruciating and a complicated assignment. Further, based on the learning situations of individual toddlers, not all teaching-and-learning experiences go as smooth as indicated. Sometimes, as shoelace-tying coaches, grownups must sit with the child through various trials and errors in the learning process.
What then benefit these little kids as they learn to tie their shoelaces?
Lev Vygotsky, the Russian developmental psychologist, compared children’s learning to constructing a building. At the primary stage, kids must be aided by adults or counterparts who are more maturely developed in terms of knowledge, skills, and/or experiences. As they gradually build up the foundations, these “scaffolds” may then be removed. Then they move on to their own independence. This theory is commonly known as the “Scaffolding Theory”.
Similarly, an effective shoelace-tying education not only boosts the development of children’s sensorimotor function, but also help cultivate their sense of direction as well as cognitive understanding toward objects and abstract language (Mascolo & Fischer, 2010). This way, children may more easily comprehend and absorb new information in the future.
Side note: Adults can also benefit from teaching children how to tie shoelaces.
“Oh? Really? Tell me!”
You’ll learn to be gentler, more compassionate, and more patient.
See, isn’t that a splendid twofer?
Then it’s time to start teaching little kids how to tie shoelaces.