Meet your babies where they are—How my 6 year old learned to tie his shoes

When many people think of parenting, I think we think of the common sense things we have to teach our kids, to speak, to eat, to not pee on themselves. It’s the random life lessons like teaching them how to tie their shoes that fleets the mind. I think this is because although adults once had to be taught how to tie their shoes, after decades of having to do it, the remembrance of being taught is distant, a foreign memory, at least for me anyway. Teaching my kindergartener how to tie his shoes easily became the biggest pain in my butt and after months of no success, I figured Velcro shoes might be the way to go. (Laugh with me.)

My husband the more patient parent, worked diligently to teach our baby boy the 4-1-1 on shoe tying but nothing seemed to work. It wasn’t until I realized how quickly first grade was approaching for my son that I realized I had to figure out something. So I did what any millennial mother would do and sought the good ole internet for some nuanced shoe tying hacks. Unfortunately, none of the methods I found online seemed to resonate with my baby boy.

I sat with a dirty Nike shoe staring back at me from our coffee table and a frustrated 6 year old ready to give up. We were all fed up. I started to relieve my child from my failed efforts when I noticed something. He was humming, like he always does. Liam is a very musically inclined little boy. He’s known to sing and dance unprovoked and he’s really good! My son was mid hum when a lightbulb went off in my head! “Make up a song! Teach him with a song!” The thought resounded in my head! I sat my son between my legs, he was still eye-level with the shoe on the coffee table, and I started to sing.

“First you make the knot! Then you make the knot. Then you go in the hole. Now you go in the hole. Now tie!”

My son swayed to the beat and instantly, he formed a rhythm of tying his shoes. He mastered the concept in less than 5 minutes! As I watched my child tying and untying his shoes like a professional, I recognized the beauty in meeting people where they are. When I reintroduced the same concepts my husband had been teaching for weeks in song, it echoed within my son because the concept in musical form was something familiar to my child. Though I’m not a professional teacher, I now comprehend why the emphasis on understanding someone’s learning styles are so pertinent to their success in the classroom. In the same way God meets his children where they are, it’s so important that teachers grant that same grace to their students. One of the most important facets of parenting is teaching. And how beautiful is it that our first teacher as believers is God, our Father. I love how God puts us in His shoes to teach us these meaningful life lessons.

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