Starting School: Putting on your own coat and shoes

8.25am is the most stressful time of day in houses with school-age children*. That last push to get out of the door and off on the school run can be the biggest hurdle of the day. But it doesn’t have to be that way! Welcome to Part Two of our series: Starting School. In part one we looked at School Dinners, this time the topic is:

Putting on Your Own Coat and Shoes

A simple skill we grown-ups take for granted can actually be quite tricky for little ones to master.  So here are a few thoughts which might help.

1. Let your child have a try. This sounds obvious but in the rush to get ready I see many parents doing up buttons and putting on shoes for their children. While this saves time, it’s not giving your child any chance to learn the skill for themself.

2. Take your time. You need to allow plenty of time to master this skill – so start when you’ve got lots of time to get ready, not when you’re already late. Little does a great job getting her own coat on, but the buttons take her ages. I have to remind myself to give her the time she needs – we wouldn’t rush along a child taking their first steps, so we need to slow down here too.

3. Give your child some Top Tips. You put on your shoes without even thinking about it, but does your child actually realise there’s a difference between their right and left foot and they need to match up the correct shoe with the correct foot? Little knows to line up her shoes on the floor before she puts them on. She knows that the flowers on the outside of each shoe shouldn’t be touching – if they are, she knows to swap them over. This is how she gets them on the correct feet. Even black school shoes often have a little pattern on the outside, so you should be able to get a pair with this picture clue. If not, maybe you can draw arrows or make a mark inside the shoe.

With coats our top tip is to get one with a hood. Then, the first step to putting it on is to put the hood on your head. This leaves both hands free to get the sleeves on – instead of having to hold the coat and get your arms in at the same time. Try it both ways and see how the Hood Manouvre helps!

4. Zips, button or toggles? Which can your child manage by themselves? Try a few in the shop and buy whichever your child finds easiest.

5. Laces or velcro? One child I know had a pair of high-top lace-up ankle boots, which were always tied (by their parent) in a double knot. She couldn’t even get the shoes off by herself, let alone lace them up. So my choice is always to go with a simple velcro strap.

With 25 children doing coats and shoes, up to 10 times in one day, your child’s new teacher will be so pleased you’ve worked on this!

(*Source: My good friend Catherine heard this on the radio. Not exactly scientific, but you agree don’t you?)

You might also like this idea for organising your school run.

Happily shared with WeareTHATfamily’s Works for me Wednesday


  1. says

    We have all this to come…my son starts school in September. You have so many great posts here, I need a good hour just to take it all in! Mornings are always a mad rush for nursery so I’m dreading school! I’ll definitely work on this in the meantime. Great stuff x

    • Cathy says

      Hi Helen – thanks for your very kind comment. I think starting early and going slowly helps everyone get used to the idea. (Esp. us Mums!)

  2. says

    Great Ideas as usual, I will start all this with Maxi, you should do one for Mumable, I forgot you had done a school dinner post (shamefaced) I didnt mean to copy

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