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Learning how to tie your shoes is a giant leap toward becoming a “big kid.” Kind of like getting your first car or driver’s license. It feels like you are immediately branded as a “grown-up.”

Yup, being self-sufficient below the ankles is a big deal.

There are tons of tips and tricks to help kids achieve those “big kid” milestones. Learning to get dressed (including shoes) by themselves is really monumental in a kid’s life.

Did you know that typically developing children are ready to learn how to tie between the ages of 4 ½  and 6?  It’s true. Unfortunately, many elementary school children don’t learn for years after that. 


Why aren’t Kids Learning How to Tie Shoes?

There are many reasons:

  1. No one ever taught them.
  2. Parents buy velcro or slip-on because it’s faster and easier.
  3. It’s a hard thing to learn – Parents watch their children struggle with it and revert to number 2.

But there’s a solution for learning how to tie shoes!  Even for children who struggle with attention, motor planning, or using two hands together.

Memory ties™: the Secret Weapon to Learning How To Tie SHoes

As a pediatric Occupational Therapist, I’ve seen every shoe-tying hack there is. But, there’s a new trick in town and it blows all the others away.  

Memory Ties™ are a training shoelace that magically “remembers” where the lace is positioned. Basically, it doesn’t flop over as soon as you take your hand away.   This is such a cool feature because so many children struggle with the step of making the loop(s) and then moving to the next step.  The laces are made with a special “memory fiber core”.  But they look like regular laces!

I find that many children tend to take their hands away from the loop(s).  This can be due to difficulties with:

  • posture
  • balance
  • bilateral coordination
  • motor planning
  • attention
  • visual attention
  • high tone
  • low tone
  • sequencing

This causes the lace to flop and the loops often “fall out”.  This is super frustrating for little kids, making the complicated job of learning how to tie even harder.

Do Children Learn How to Tie Shoes with Memory Ties™?

Yes.   The unique design of the lace helps the lace to “stay” in a position much longer than a standard lace.  This gives children who need more time to motor-plan an advantage. Children who need to take their hands away don’t have to start back at the beginning. They can just pick right up where they left off.


I had the unique opportunity to work with three different kinds of Memory Ties  training shoelaces (Two brand new and one lace that had been used over  80 times).   One was a brand new solid color blue lace. I was able to experiment with a brand new two-colored lace, too.

Learning to tie shoes


(I’ve always taught kids to tie with two different colored laces- it provides a visual cue that makes it much easier to learn the steps.  So I was excited to try the Memory Ties Training Lace out.)

The brand new training shoelaces were both amazing.  I immediately put them to use with a kindergarten student, Zeus, who had been learning how to tie at home.  His mom said he “almost had it” but hadn’t completely mastered shoe-tying yet.

We started working with the two-colored lace on the table.   He almost had the steps down, but would often lose his grip on the first loop.   This is where Memory Ties saved the day.  Because the loop barely moved when he took his hand away, I was able to give him a verbal cue of what to do next.   He was able to tie the lace on his second try!


Learning How to Tie Shoes


Next,  we laced up Zeus’ sneaker with the brand new all-blue lace.  This would be a bit harder because both “loops” or sides were the same color.  Plus, tying on a foot is always harder than tying on a table.  Because we had a few “practice runs” with the two-colored lace that went so smoothly, Zeus was feeling confident tying with the solid-colored lace on his sneaker.  It went great—a few more run-throughs and he had it down.

We switched back to his regular shoelace.  Feeling successful from our practice session with the Memory Ties, Zeus confidently remembered all the steps and tied his shoes on the first try with his “real” lace.  His little face beamed with pride as he ran to tell his mom that he was a “big kid” now.

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As Memory Ties™  training shoelaces are repeatedly manipulated, they become more flexible!  This is helpful for therapists because it provides learners with a graded training experience.   While brand new Memory Ties are stiffer, ones that have been manipulated repeatedly become more pliable, and feeling closer and closer to standard laces. As a pediatric OT, I will be keeping all three of these training shoelaces in my “OT Toolbox”, so I can select the right lace for each child to learn how to tie shoes.

Where Can you get your own Memory Ties™?

Memory Ties ™ come with a practice card and are now available starting at $5.99 at the Memory Ties website.  Check them out for yourself!  They are the perfect secret weapon to learning how to tie shoes.

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