I had a truly difficult task with today’s song. One of my students is learning to tie shoes. It requires lots of coordination and ability to sequence several step directions.  Also, this particular child is blind so that adds another layer of complexity to the task (shared with permission).  His occupational therapist who has tried an infinite number of ways found this video which teaches the task in a more simplistic way than I’ve ever seen. So I set out to create a song that would use this particular method.

I had so much fun with the chord progression! After I wrote it, I thought, “wow, that sounds so cool.” Then later after I played it for my husband, he was quick to point out that it sounds a little like Roy Orbison’s “You Got It.”  So if you find yourself adding in a few “you got it’s” as you listen, then you’re not alone.  Perhaps even, singing “you got it!” will provide some positive affirmation to your child if they are struggling.

Tips & Tricks

Use a variety of items to practice this new skill.  A real shoe, one of those learning lace up shoes, or make one your self with cardboard (insert pic).  Change it up as you go.

Learn the lyrics.  If your child retains and learns information presented in a musical format, then you should let them learn the words first.  Then slowly add in the motor skills.  Maybe they do the first verse and you assist with subsequent steps.  Over time they do more steps and you fade out.

Take your time. If the child needs more time to complete the step, just wait.  If you are using the recording, you can start/stop the music at will. *I am doing this myself because I need to provide physical assistance to my student!!* Also singing without music is just fine too!

Use a checklist. If your child needs a little extra help with multi-step directions, take a picture of each step, place a checkbox beside it, and laminate.  A dry erase marker can be used each time. If I was going to do something like this for a visually impaired child (who did not read Braille), I would use a tactile checklist.  Something physical to represent each step.

Lyrics

Chorus:
I gotta tie my shoes.
I gotta tie my shoes.
I gotta tie my shoes, yeah.
That’s why I sing this tune.

I’m gonna hold each lace.
I’m gonna pull them across.
One goes over and through, yeah.
I’m gonna do it again.

I’m gonna hold each lace.
I’m gonna pull them across.
One goes over and through, year.
But don’t pull it too tight.

Chorus

I’m gonna hold one lace.
And put it in the knot.
I’m gonna hold the other lace
And put it in the knot too.

The last thing to do
I’m gonna pull it tight.
I’m gonna pull it tight, yeah.
Now I tied my shoe. Now I tied my shoe.

Chorus

*Update* I have used this song for the past several weeks and learned a few things.

#1: The student loves the song which produces the motivation needed to attempt the task!

#2: I have offered a few more cues in addition to the lyrics. Since my student is blind, I have to physically show him where to place his fingers.  We have designated “marks” where he will hold or cross the laces every single time we practice.

#3: His mom made a video of ME implementing the song so that she and every other professional can do it the same way with the same physical cues, etc.

I have to say that since using this song, my particular client has made good progress with this skill. I extremely am hopeful that more practice will produce independence!

Have you taught the shoe-tying skill before? What worked for you?  Any other songs or resources out there you want to share? Leave a comment.

Sing on,

Mary

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