How to Tie Shoes the “OT Way”

Now that you have reached adulthood, you can tie your gym shoes before an early-morning (or maybe not so early) without giving it a second thought, and it will probably not take you longer than a few seconds to do so. Gone are the days of having to sing the song about bunny ears in your head. However, this has not always been the case. For many children, learning to tie shoes can be difficult, even a bit stressful.

For children who experience developmental delays, particularly with motor skills, tying shoes can be a frustrating task.

Luckily, occupational therapists have created an easy step-by-step method to teach young children to tie their shoes. If your child or student is struggling to master this skill, perhaps teaching them to tie their shoes the “OT way” can help to alleviate their shoe lace woes.

What is occupational therapy?
Simply put, occupational therapy is a field dedicated to building the skills that individuals need to perform their everyday activities (or “occupations”). Occupational therapy, or “OT,” is one of the fastest-growing fields in the United States, and OTs can work with individuals of all ages in a variety of settings (e.g. clinics, hospitals, and schools). In children, occupational therapy might target skills such as handwriting, self-care, and even tying shoe laces.

Why is it important for a child to learn to tie their shoes?
While this is a seemingly simple or trivial skill, learning to tie shoes can lead to a sense of independence for children and help to develop their motor and visual perception skills. Also, tying shoe laces requires multiple steps, so children who learn to tie their shoes can also help children to learn how to follow a multi-step process and properly sequence activities. Velcro may be a wonderful solution for the early years in development, but learning to tie shoes is an important skill to acquire.

How to tie shoes the OT Way
The first step is having your child place their shoe in front of them when practicing, perhaps on their lap. It will be much easier to practice this way than to practice with the shoe on their foot.

  • Cross the two laces over one another
  • Pull the laces tight
  • Cross the laces over one another again, but don’t pull them tight this time (leave a loop)
  • Put one end of the left lace through the loop (this creates the first “bunny ear”)
  • Put the end of the right lace through the loop (this creates the second “bunny ear”)
  • Pull the bunny ears tight
  • Double knot, if you wish

Do you think your child could benefit from OT?
Contact Chicago Occupational Therapy or call (773) 980-0300 to learn more about our services for children, including applied behavior analysis (ABA) therapy, occupational therapy, and speech therapy.

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