Shoelace tying success

Shoelace tying success

5 tips and two approaches to help your child master the skill of shoelace tying.


Boots are gone and running shoes are out... so it's a good time to work on mastering shoelace tying.

Occupational therapists often teach children who have motor or visual skill challenges how to master tying their shoes.

While we may suggest finding shoes with Velcro fasteners or using elastic laces to foster immediate independence, shoe lace tying success is still a goal.

There is some debate about whether it is easier or harder to learn with the shoe pointing away from you (as it will when it is on your foot) or towards you. I usually try with the shoe pointing away from the child first.





Be mindful of what works best for your child and consider the following 5 tips:



  1. Use an oversize shoe for practice (practice off foot instead of on foot first)

  2. Stuff the shoe with a sock to keep its shape

  3. Super long laces may not be helpful; the extra length can get in the way of small hands!

  4. Colour half of a white shoe lace; having two colours to follow really does help your child.

  5. Shoe lace tying is a two-handed activity (your child's two hands, not one of theirs and one of yours). 


Here are two approaches to shoelace tying: the wrap/knot approach or the bunny ear approach:



  • Use backward chaining for both.

  • Backward chaining means you teach the last step first and work your way backwards, teaching each subsequent step.

  • The adult does all the steps needed to tie the laces, except the last one.

  • Your child gets to perform the last step for success!


Wrap/Double knot approach steps REMEMBER these go BACKWARDs as you teach the last step first!



  1. Double Knot: Pull the loops sideways.

  2. Double Knot: Push the top one down then up through the opening

  3. Double Knot: Crisscross the two loops, pinching all four strands

  4. Grab one loop with left hand, the other with the right hand and pull sideways together

  5. Push the belly of the wrapped lace through the space next to your thumb.

  6. Keep a space over your thumb.

  7. Wrap: Pick up free lace and wrap it around the front of the loop.

  8. First loop: Pinch the lace together to make a big loop, hold tight

  9. Pull the tip through until it stops.

  10. Put the tip of one lace under the middle of the other lace.

  11. Make an X, cross the laces. Shoe on foot or table.


Bunny ear approach steps REMEMBER these go BACKWARDs as you teach the last step first!



  1. Pull the loops sideways.

  2. Push the top one down then up through the opening.

  3. Crisscross the two loops (bunny ears) pinching all four strands.

  4. Grab one loop with left hand, the other with the right hand and pull sideways together.

  5. Second loop: Pinch other lace together to make another big loop, hold tight.

  6. First loop: Pinch the lace together to make a big loop, hold tight.

  7. Pull the tip through until it stops.

  8. Put the tip of one lace under the middle of the other lace.

  9. Make an X, cross the laces. Shoe on foot or table.


Occupational therapists often help teach children who are struggling to learn shoelace tying.  Sometimes, the child we are helping has motor or visual skill challenges. If your child has similar challenges you’ll appreciate the information contained in the eBook All About Motor Skills.

All About Motor Skills is an eBook designed to help promote your child’s physical abilities and expand the repertoire of activities you and your child can have fun with while improving their motor skills.

 


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