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All Tied Up

New clinic teaches children how to tie their shoes.

Mary Hanlon’s son Hank Amaditz learned to tie his shoes at a clinic taught by Bill Wong, called “Shoe Tying with Mr. Bill” at the Shoe Train in Cabin John.

Mary Hanlon’s son Hank Amaditz learned to tie his shoes at a clinic taught by Bill Wong, called “Shoe Tying with Mr. Bill” at the Shoe Train in Cabin John. Photo courtesy of Cari Shane

Free Shoe Tying Clinic

Ages: 5 and up.

Clinics offered 2nd Wednesday of each month at Potomac’s Shoe Train.

Time: 4 – 4:30 p.m.

Reservation required.

For more information:

http://shoetrainpotomac.com/

— Like many parents of young children, Mary Hanlon decided it was time for her five-year-old son, Hank to reach another milestone: learning to tie his shoes.

“I was done either choosing to limit his shoe choices to Velcro, or having to tie his shoes for him every time we left the house,” said Hanlon.

Hanlon thought enlisting the help of an expert was a good starting point, so she registered her son for a free clinic at the Shoe Train in Cabin John. “Shoe Tying with Mr. Bill” is a complimentary class held on the second Wednesday of every month.

“Hank was reticent to try to tie shoes or be shown how, but is a very competent and independent kid with good manual dexterity, and we just thought it was time,” said Hanlon. “I think the idea of learning to tie shoes can be intimidating, and sometimes instruction on things like that comes more easily from someone who's not the parent.”

The shoe-tying clinics were the brainchild of Shoe Train owner Marina Fradlin. “It was immediately apparent that one of the top concerns for parents of young kids is how and when to teach them to tie their shoes,” she said. “It’s a life event that’s often a stressor.”

“I think the idea of learning to tie shoes can be intimidating, and sometimes instruction on things like that comes more easily from someone who's not the parent.”

— Mary Hanlon, Potomac parent

The classes, which are limited to six children per session and require reservations, are taught by Bill Wong, an expert who has worked at the Shoe Train for three decades. “Over the years, it was apparent that Bill’s technique ‘spoke’ to children and piqued their interest, so he was the obvious person to have host the clinic,” said Fradlin.

Children must be at least five years old to attend a clinic. “[T]hat’s when the fine motor skills for tying start to kick in,” said Wong. “Usually that’s also when children really start wanting to learn. The interest coincides with the start of kindergarten and the desire to feel independent. Of course, there are variances on either side of five, but in my four decades of teaching experience, five is the average age for success in teaching kids to tie their shoes.”

How does a parent know that a child is ready to begin learning to tie a pair of shoelaces? “If a child wants to tie, then she or he will learn to tie,” said Wong. “If a child fights a parent because she or he just doesn’t want to do it, for whatever reason, it will be virtually impossible to teach him or her. [The] key to anything is wanting to do it.”

Children who complete the clinic receive a certificate that is rolled and tied with a new pair of shoelaces. For more information or to sign up for a free clinic, visit: http://shoetrainpotomac.com/