Back to School Tips

Self-fastening vs lace up: which is best for your child?

Self-fastening vs lace up: which is best for your child?

There are all sorts of this-or-that questions that wander through a parent’s mind as they write up their back to school shopping list, and one constant query is whether to opt for self-fastening school shoes or lace ups. Just like no two kids are the same, neither are their feet. There’s so much variety when it comes to finding the right shoes for your little one to step into a new chapter of school, from the fit to the sole to the style. Each choice needs to be made in consideration of your child’s individual needs. This blog can act as a guide to direct parents in deciding between self-fastening and lace up, but when in doubt, head over to your local Shoes & Sox store for the expertise of our Fit Squad.

Self-fastening shoes

For trip-proof and fuss-free shoes that’ll prevent your wobbly little one from toppling over, self-fastening tends to be the easier option. They’re typically best for younger kids who are still working on their balance and coordination, and need something that easily slips on and off. After all, the quicker they can put on their shoes, the sooner they can jump into playing with their friends.

Emily Smith, Sports Podiatrist and founder of Emily Braidwood, says that “self-fastening school shoes are convenient for younger children who are still learning to tie their shoes. They are easy to put on and take off, streamlining the morning routine.”

So if your little one doesn’t quite have the fine motor skills to deal with laces, self-fastening shoes are a safe bet.

Lace up shoes

The eventual goal is for your kid to master shoelaces, for both practical and social reasons (because once all their friends start wearing laces, they’ll want to as well).

According to Emily Smith, “Lace-up school shoes offer a customisable fit and are ideal for children who can tie their own laces. They provide a secure fit and help children with wider or narrower feet adjust the fit accordingly. However, ensure the laces are snugly tied to prevent tripping hazards.” You can learn more about what this feet expert had to say about lace-ups here (link to Emily blog).

Shoelaces require a fair bit of hand-eye coordination and other skills, so it might take some practise for your little one to nail it. But even when they do have the hang of it, they might not be ready to fully transition.

Transitioning from self-fastening to lace up

So, when is the best time to transition from self-fastening straps to laces? Typically, kids from 5-6 years will be starting to transition to laces, but every kid has their own pace and journey. It depends on your kid’s needs and confidence levels, so trust your parent intuition!

To support your child’s transition, the following steps might help.

1. Teach them how tie shoelaces

Whilst the most obvious step, it can also be the most frustrating. Make sure you sit side-by-side with them and go through each step slowly, stating what you’re doing at every point. Show them a few times while they follow along, and then let them try by themselves. Think back to those little songs and rhymes your parents taught you (like the ‘bunny ears’ one).

 2. Practice regularly

Repetition is key, so aim to help your child practice tying their shoelaces daily (if that’s possible). It might take your child a little while to nail the art of shoelaces, and that’s perfectly ok. As long as they keep warming up that skill and trying. You can use this as a good opportunity to teach them about patience, and working towards a goal.

 3. Don’t ditch the self-fastening shoes yet

There might be days where your kid ties laces with ease, and others where they reach meltdown point just trying. To save you both the stress, keep their self-fastening shoes around while they’re still learning. It means they can take their time getting really confident, and won’t just be thrown into the deep end (lest they trip all over the place). Having a back-up pair of self-fastening shoes means they won’t be rushed or overwhelmed. 

At the end of the day, every kid is unique with different needs. For tailored recommendations on whether your kid is ready for laces or should stick with self-fastening for a bit longer, speak to the Shoes & Sox Fit Squad.