All children can have trouble learning this skill but for special needs children it can be a particular challenge. Our children often have fine motor skill deficits or have problems with learning and remembering multi-step sequences.
One of my friends on Facebook asked if there was an app or other resources she could use to help her son learn to tie his shoes. Oliver and Owen haven’t attempted to cross that bridge yet, we’re still ok with velcro and slip-ons, but I wanted to pull together the resources we found between us for future reference.
If you have any other tips or resources, please feel free to add them in comments.
There is an app for that
My colleague at Smart Apps For Kids, Jill Goodman, recommends this app highly. It’s called Shoe Tying 1 – Activity App. In addition to the app, the developer, Accelerations Educational Software, has a teaching guide on their website. Here’s a review of the app from OTs with Apps.
Using Backward Chaining
Coincidentally, I saw an article that Judy Endow posted on LinkedIn about using backward chaining as a way of teaching children to tie their shoes.
Nail an old shoe to a solid piece of board! If you’re like me and may end up nailing your fingers to the board instead, there are ‘toys’ you can buy to practice on, like the one above, made by Melissa & Doug.
Using different coloured, longer shoe laces
A friend’s OT passed along this tip – the difference in colour and having lots of lace to play with are often helpful for kids who are just starting out.
I’m not an OT but apparently, shoulder exercises can help your child strengthen the larger muscles of the shoulder girdle which in turn provides stability for your child’s smaller muscles in their hands and lower arm, which they need to perform fine motor tasks effectively.
The app uses video modelling of course, but for those that don’t have an iOS device, one friend shared a YouTube video she had used which also has the advantage of having a song which your child can learn to help them remember the steps in the sequence. This video shows the ‘bunny ears’ method.
If your older child desperately wants to wear shoes with laces but hasn’t quite mastered tying them yet, one option to consider for them is curly laces which don’t need to be tied.
Any other tips or resources you have found helpful? Please share!