Friday, September 9, 2011

Girls like boys who can tie their shoes!

When I have boys at the clinic that can't tie their shoes by 8 or even 10, I like to encourage them by saying, "Girls like boys who can tie their shoes!". I ask them if they want their mom to come along on their first date or to their first job in case their shoe comes untied. :)
To work on shoe tying I first figure out why the child can't tie their shoes. Have they never been taught (we live in a world of velcro and flip flops)? Do they have trouble with dexterity or fine motor control? Do they have trouble sequencing long tasks or learning multiple-step directions? Once I figure out WHY...Then I can figure out...HOW to fix it.

Make a shoe tying card!
  1. Get a piece of cardboard, some crayons/markers, and two DIFFERENT shoe laces. Different color laces help the child see what they are doing when they are learning to tie.
  2. Trace your the child's foot/shoe.
  3. Have the child color the "shoe".
  4. Poke holes into the board with a pen or a pair of scissors.
  5. Lace the shoe with the different color laces.
  6. Decide which way you are going to teach your child to tie (loop/swoop or bunny ears).
  7. Break down the steps into as simple, but descriptive steps that you can (I don't love the directions on the card above, those are my OLD directions-but I couldn't find any of my "newer" verbiage, because I have sent all those home with my clients!).
  8. Practice and say/read the same words to your child each time so that no matter who they practice with they learn the same way.

Have they never been taught?
Simple. Teach them. In a quiet room. Demonstrate the first 3 steps (you know...Make and "X" then lace on the bottom goes through the hole and pull). Have them try...Demonstrate it again. And again. And again. As soon as they learn how. Buy them a pair of tie shoes (have them wear them at least 3+ times a week) and NEVER just tie their shoe again. Even send a note in your child's folder saying, " Bobby has learned to tie his shoes, please do not tie them for him." I did this with my son (because I found out at school he was pretending that he could not tie them so that other people would have to!). For the first month or so after they learn to tie their shoes, do NOT teach them to double knot them. We want them to come untied so that they are able to practice.

Do they have trouble with dexterity or fine motor control?
Then I suggest the "loop it, swoop it and pull" method. You know make a loop and wrap the lace around and pull through to form another loop. This is the method that most adults use. You do not need to pinch the laces so tight or form a loop using just one hand so it works for children and adults with some basic fine motor delay. I however find it difficult because it has more steps.

Do they have trouble sequencing long tasks or learning multiple-step directions?  
Then you gotta do BUNNY EARS! It is definitely my favorite (hey it's the way I learned). I have taught several nieces and nephews and friend's children this way in less then 10 minutes (if they child has the skills and is ready to learn). When you use the BUNNY EARS the child is basically doing the same few steps, twice. (See some writtten directions for BUNNY EARS in the above photo).

Practice, practice, practice! And praise each step that is learned.

*Did you figure out fabulous wording for learning to tie shoes? Feel free to share it in the comments for other!

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