Helping preschoolers get their shoes on the correct feet

Duane came up with a way to teach his daughter to put her shoes on the proper feet:

My daughter (who just turned 4) seems to get her left and right shoes confused more than half the time.  Any explanation of left/right or putting L and R on them is far too premature, since she can't spell yet.  So what I did was to take a pen and place an X right on the edge of each shoe, near the bottom, up close to the big toe.  As low as possible so that it doesn't look silly.  The idea, which seems to be working, is that I can now tell her "Make sure the X's touch."  So she looks for the X's, lines them up, and then puts her shoes on.

I tried putting the marks on the bottom but they wore off too fast.  So where you put them and how big they are is entirely dependent on how much you care about marking up the shoes.  Not recommended for the dressy ones, but not bad for trying on the everyday beat-up pair.


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  1. Joshua says

    I got almost the same idea when my daughter was about that age;

    I grabbed a good pen, and asked her what picture she wanted on each shoe; then I drew a little one on the inside of the ankle (I think it was a flower), let her know to make sure they are facing or touching, and it worked like a charm :)

    Because it was a small picture, she thought it made the shoes more special, and now her younger brothers really look forward to getting the pictures on thiers if they get new shoes or it rubs off.

    Brainstorm: Those small scrapbook stamps would probably work great if you dont want to draw

  2. Stu Mark says

    I’m a big fan of teaching, of training. In other words, one way to deal with this is to sit the child down barefoot, and show her the left shoe, oriented the way she would see it on her foot. Then explain, “This is the left shoe, it goes on the left foot,” using both sight and touch to explain. Do the same with the other shoe. After a minute or so of this, tell her to close her eyes, then put one shoe on the ground, and then have her open her eyes. Ask her, “What foot does this belong on?” The process takes some time, but the learning will happen, and it will help strengthen her brain. (As always, your mileage may vary)

  3. Jill says

    I marked the instep with pen, but I put an R on one and an L on one. Seemed like we could learn the names of them at the same time as we learned where to put them.

  4. rotangus says

    Same idea. I drew duckies on the top of the toe box so that they were facing each other when the shoes were put on.

  5. Amie says

    We would tell our boys to “make sure the shoes kiss” since they usually curve in to the inside and touch if they stand up with their feet together.

  6. AmyS says

    If you want to spend some money, you can get Shoe Clues stickers for inside the shoes. They have pictures of ducks, dogs, fish facing each other (and have L or R). They really stick — my daughters’ shoes came from her cousin with the stickers in place and they haven’t moved!

    3 pairs for $3.50 from the MomInventedStore:

  7. Chakolate says

    Tristan had a lot of trouble with that, and one day I showed him that the slant of the toe part of the shoe was the same as the slant of the toes of the correct foot.

    “See this curve? Which foot has toes that curve the same?”

    He’s never gotten it wrong since.

  8. momma2mingbu says

    I recently saw stickers that are designed to help with this. You put the sticker where the heel will be inside both shoes. There were animals on each one and they should look at each other when they are on the correct sides. I’m sure you could use regular stickers in a similar way.