Getting dressed for success

One of the best things you can do to get your child ready for starting school help them practise getting dressed and undressed independently.

Here are some simple tips:

  • Allow plenty of time for practising getting dressed, you don’t want your child to be rushed while they’re mastering these skills
  • Start practising with clothes that have large buttons – they’re far easier for little fingers to fasten
  • Attach a length of ribbon to a zipper, it makes it far easier to pull it up and down
  • Sew a tag or make a mark in the back of clothes like t-shirts or pants so your child knows straightaway which way round they go
  • Playing games like threading large beads onto laces or posting things through slots provide opportunities for children to develop the hand/eye coordination needed for fiddly tasks like doing up buttons, poppers and zips

A knotty problem

Nowadays, many children’s shoes use Velcro fastenings, which means that children don’t always get a chance to learn how to tie laces. A good starting point is with a shoe on a table in front of your child, or alternatively using a lacing card. Once they’re feeling more confident, progress to practising when the shoe or trainer is on their foot. You can also try practising with two laces of different colours knotted together. That makes it clear to see where each lace needs to go.

Three steps to shoe lace success:

  1. First knot

Ask children to hold a lace in each hand and then cross over the laces. They need to take the top lace over then under the bottom lace, then pull tight on each end.

  1. Making a loop

Make a loop (or ‘bunny ear’!) with each lace held between the thumb and finger.

  1. Crossing the loops

Without letting go of either loop, cross one over the other and take it underneath the crossover point before pulling tight. Repeat to tie a double knot.

Giving your child the opportunity to practice dressing activities will support them developing independent practical skills. Don’t forget each child is different and will learn and develop at different speeds.

Useful links:


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Leicestershire Partnership NHS Trust runs a confidential secure text messaging service for parents of children aged 0-19 years called Chat Health. The service operates Monday to Friday between 9am and 5pm, excluding bank holidays. All texts will be responded to by a public health nurse (health visitor/school nurse) within 24 hours. Outside of the service working hours, you’ll receive a message back to inform you that your text will be responded to once the line reopens.

Should you require urgent health advice in the meantime, please contact your GP, visit an NHS walk-in centre or call NHS 111. For emergencies, dial 999 or visit A&E.

Leicester City: text 07520 615381

Leicestershire & Rutland: text 07520 615382

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