Shoelace Tying (for the challenged kid)

shoelace picture

If you qualify for occupational therapy services it is normally because you have a delay with visual motor integration, visual perception, motor coordination, &/ fine motor skills. Those are basically the skills that are needed for shoelace tying.  Therefore, the kids we serve often struggle with this skill.  Often we will teach an “adapted” technique.  But here is the honest truth, I do not like working on this skill!  Most OT and teachers that I know, do not enjoy teaching this.  I am always hoping for a way to make it easier for my kiddos and my teachers trying to help their students.

Recently, I have been in three different IEP meetings that this subject has come up. It normally does not come up that often!  In the first meeting, I showed the team the technique I have seen on YouTube and that other OTs have had success with.  It is a good adaptations, that you can even adapt it a little more.  I have seen another version of this technique, but I can not locate that video.  This video gives you an idea of one adapted technique.

I like this video also because I like to teach children with a shoe that is not on their foot (easier to learn on the table or floor not on their foot).  I also really like to use different colored laces and a different colored shoe, like how they are doing it in the video. The first picture in this blog is the shoe that I use during my OT sessions.  It is actually a pencil pouch.  Having the weight of something in the shoe also helps. All of this really helps the child with visual perceptual delays.

Now in my last IEP meeting, a grandmother told us how her child with significant visual perceptual delays has learned to tie his shoelaces.  He is very proud of himself, with good reason.  Therefore, I really wanted to see this technique.  I have actually seen it before. But I have not seen a video of it.  Then on this same day, I had another student show me the same technique.  So I have decided it is a winner.  The grandmother was also kind enough to let us video tape her doing it so we could share with other teachers.  The things that get me excited! 🙂


Basically, you take the end of each lace and put it into a whole, on the same side as the lace comes out.  My kid, later in the day, used the upper empty whole in his shoe.  Then make an X with these two loops or “bunny ears”.  Push one bunny ear through the whole. Then make another X with the bunny ears and push a bunny ear through the whole.  With time, imagine, the child will not need to put the end of the lace in a whole but will rather just make two bunny ears to do this technique.

Let us all give it a try to see what we think!


I do hope this helps a lot of people trying to teach this skill and those kids learning it.



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