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Tying Shoe Laces

Introduction
Tying shoe-laces is a skill which requires a child to have mastered many other skills including being able to:

  • Co-ordinate the use of both hands together
  • Move and adjust position of objects in each hand in a controlled way
  • Plan how to carry out a sequence of movements to complete a task
  • Organise a task in terms of space and position

Tips to help when teaching the skill

  • Teach and practise the skill when there is no pressure of time
  • Teach the child initially while seated at a table, shoe on the table with the heal pointing towards the child. This provides a stable position in which the child can learn the new skill without also having to cope with adjustments to body position and balance.
  • Use thick, flat lace in two different colours (i.e. before lacing the shoe tie two laces of different colours together so that the laces emerging from the left and right eyelets are of different colours). This will help the child to learn which lace has to go where, and will also help you to give accurate instructions in the early stages.
  • To begin with children often find it difficult to tie the knot tightly enough, resulting in frustration when it continually comes undone. To help prevent the knot slipping, teach the child to overlap the initial knot twice (shown below).

Teaching method
1. Decide which method of shoelace tying to use i.e.

  • conventional method: one loop is formed, the other lace is passed round the loop to the back, then pushed through the resulting hole
  • two-loop method: two loops are formed, then tied together

2. Teach just one step at a time, until the child has mastered that stage.

3. Teaching the last stage first (backward chaining) can help a child feel that they are achieving something even before they are able to tie the whole lace independently.

Alternatives to shoelaces

  • Use elastic laces, curly laces or tags to keep shoes fastened. 
  • Use Velcro-fastening shoes
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