Movement is at the very core of how children develop intellectually, emotionally, socially, and of course, physically. Here at Moving Smart we foster children's naturally move-to-learn style while helping parents and teachers understand the comprehensive benefits of all that wiggling!

That's why we say "A Moving Child is a Learning Child."

Friday, April 22, 2011

BAREFOOTIN'

In a world seemingly obsessed with carefulness these days, one of the things I fear is getting lost is the joy of going barefoot, and along with it all the benefits. For little ones, getting and staying in touch with their feet is important. Here's why...



Five Great Reasons to Go Barefoot!

1. BODY MAPPING. Babies aren't born with a sense of their own body, and in fact, don't even realize they have hands and feet for a while. The way they find out is through feeling them, tasting them, and putting them to good (and mischievous!) use. Little ones who have their feet stuffed into footed onesies, slippers, socks, and/or shoes, all day and night run the risk of never truly getting to know their toes.

2. STRENGTH. Feet have a big job everyday holding our weight. Wearing shoes and socks provides support but also takes some of the responsibility off of the muscles in the feet. Going barefoot is the most natural way to keep feet in tip-top shape!

3. ADAPTABILITY. When I was a kid, I couldn't wait for summer to run barefoot outdoors (as every kid did out in the country where we lived). But those first days were always a little hard on the feet. Softened up by the padding of socks, shoes, and indoor carpeting all winter, our feet had to toughen up. It hurt a little, but it was so worth it!  Not only does going barefoot give kids a great sense of personal freedom, it teaches them a fundamental principle of independence -- how to adapt to different situations -- even the rocky ones. (Of course, city kids have it different I realize, so find a park if you can. And remember, going barefoot around the house has many of the same benefits.)

4. CONFIDENCE. When children feel their steps directly, they are much better able to understand the intricacies of even the trickiest terrain and navigate it more adeptly. This is true for flat surfaces as well as inclines. Indeed, shoes tend to slip when children climb on playground equipment, while feet are naturally designed to provide sensitive traction, and toes flex to give us better grip.

5. CONNECTEDNESS. Feet are our connection to the earth. They are where we meet gravity. Which makes me wonder. Could our modern image of ourselves be upside down? What would the world be like if we believed we begin in our feet and end in our minds?






















In gratitude to Mum and Dad for all those well-grounded, barefooted, gone fishin' summers.

Take my word for it. Go to ITunes and download the 1966 hit song Barefootin' by Robert Taylor. Then throw off those socks and shoes and show everybody what dancin' feet can do!

BAREFOOTIN'
By Robert Parker
Nola Records, 1966

Everybody get on your feet.
You make me nervous when you in your seat,
Take off your shoes and pat your feet,
We're doin a dance that can't be beat! 


We're barefootin', We're barefootin', 


We're barefootin', We're barefootin', 





Went to a party the other night, 


Long Tall Sally was out of sight 


Threw way her wig, and her high sneakers too, 


She was doin a dance without any shoes 


She was barefootin', She was barefootin', 


She was barefootin', She was barefootin', 





Hey little gal with the red dress on, 


I bet you can barefoot all night long 


Take off your shoes and throw them away, 


Come back and get them another day 


We're barefootin', We're barefootin', 


We're barefootin', We're barefootin', 



Lil John Henry he said to Sue, 


If I was barefootin' would you barefoot too 


Sue told John, "I'm thirty two, 


I was barefootin ever since I was two 


They was barefootin', they was barefootin' 


They was barefootin'', we barefootin' 



We barefootin' we barefootin' 


We barefootin' we barefootin' 


We barefootin' we barefootin' 


We don't have no shoes on



29 comments:

  1. I love this post! We recently had a uni student with us at preschool and she commented on how great it was that we let so many kids be barefoot. I had never thought that this didn't happen elsewhere, and it seemed sad because barefoot play is one of the joys of childhood. My kids go to a progressive school and they don't have to wear shoes if they don't want to - only in situations that require it like bushwalking etc and in the middle of winter.

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  2. I agree - barefoot opportunities for children are essential. Frode Svane, the Norwegian play architect has some super photos of barefoot experiences that have been set up for children and adults to enjoy in parks. There's also a barefoot organisation.

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  3. So glad to meet barefoot advocates! Feels to me the shoes-or-no-shoes debate is more an adult issue. Think if kids could have it their way, they'd be barefoot all the time! Thanks for your comments.

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  4. Great post! Interestingly, health experts like cardiologist Stephen Sinatra advocate barefoot walking as a way to counter the health problems brought on by our overexposure to Electromagnetic frequencies that may be throwing our whole body off-kilter. Research is still new, but it's hard not to feel good after a barefoot walk in the grass or on the beach!

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  5. Sarah - That's fascinating! I hadn't heard of that research. I'll look into it. Thanks! And couldn't agree with you more. Somehow when your feet are free, you feel better!

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  6. We love going barefoot! My girls would do it any all seasons if I would let them. Can't wait for outdoor barefoot season to arrive.

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  7. Barefoot great as long as it's warm and kids don't catch colds.
    What are the thought on shoes that simulate bare feet walking- e.g. those toe shoes?

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  8. I LOVE this post. I learn so much from your blog with every post. Thank you!

    Also, I love your blog so much, I gave you the Versatile Blogger Award on my blog.
    http://live-by-rule2.blogspot.com/2011/04/versatile-blogger-award.html

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  9. Thank you so much for saying this! It's so true we NEED to go barefoot. It makes me feel a lot less guilty for letting my kids go barefoot! I love your blog, I can't wait to follow you!

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  10. Mum on the brink... Thank you for introducing me to "barefoot" shoes. I didn't know they existed! My immediate reaction was that I wouldn't be wearing them to the academy awards! Seriously though, nothing beats the sensory experience of skin. So if its safe, bare feet are the best option!

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  11. WOW... Versatile Blogger Award. Thank you so much for the honor Melissa and I'm so thrilled you find our blog useful! I've just spent some time reading your blog reminding me of that first christmas when I awaited my first newborn. Know this - the joy you feel now in those first weeks only gets better.

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  12. My boys LOVE being barefoot!Everywhere we go, the park, the local farm, they just kick off their shoes and run. (actually I love to go barefoot as well, but I usually stick to the backyard or beach) I never actually thought through all of the benefits though (GREAT POST), it just felt right. I've been surprised over the past few years at just how many parents (around here anyway) never let their kids go bareffoot, even in their own yard.

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  13. Another great post and I'm really loving your blog...keep it up!

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  14. Fantastic post and we are bare foot lovers in our home :)

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  15. I come in the house and the shoes comes off. Many parents now days are afraid to let the kids go barefoot..even in their own yard as Erin said! It never killed us, it won't kill them. They build up immunity by being exposed. Which brings me to the "germ freaks" in the grocery store. Wipe the cart, keep the kids contained, and then touch and put in your cart the items (horror) everyone else has already touched. ???

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  16. When I was a kid we went barefoot every where. Even riding bikes. My girls continue this tradition. They can even run barefoot on our gravel driveway. They are definitely country kids.

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  17. JDaniel now has great reasons to walk around without shoes.

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  18. Another great article! Linked back in last week's Outdoor Play post: http://mamapeapod.blogspot.com/2011/07/outdoor-play-blog-hop-no-walking-on.html

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  19. I find socks all over the house the whole time.... Kids just love to be barefoot and actually I remember wandering around London barefoot right through to my late 20's - I think it's probably true that people like to be barefoot - the connection with the earth is something we are not really aware of, but anyone who does Tai Chi or other martial arts will know, we can gain great strength from being connected to the earth.

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  20. I love this post! Although my own children spend most of their time in the garden without shoes on, I always feel like I should make sure the children I look after have their shoes on. But now I know the benefits of going bare foot!

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  21. Great post. My daughter loves to go barefoot. Our car journeys always start with the sound of ripping Velcro as she yanks her shoes off the minute we set off. Good to know its good for her.

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  22. I read this post long ago, but I don't think I commented. I am passionate about getting kids barefoot, and it saddens me that so many elementary schools force our kids into shoes and "brainwash" them into believing going barefoot is dangerous. Last year, a school administrator in Hawaii stated publicly that "the days of going to school barefoot in Hawaii are over." I wrote her a letter urging her to reconsider, but never got a reply. Thank you for your efforts to free our children's feet and minds! ~ Barefoot Professor (Daniel Howell), author of THE BAREFOOT BOOK:50 GREAT REASONS TO KICK OFF YOUR SHOES.

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  23. Thank you - I agree with all your points and will comment even though it's from 2011.

    A barefoot childhood is a gift and not just the foundation of a healthy lifestyle but something you will think back to fondly during your whole life. The best thing that parents could do would be to allow and encourage (not force!) their children to go barefoot wherever, whenever they like and not be afraid of damage or cold (child feet aren't all that fragile but adapt to their environment a lot better than adult feet!) Sure teach them about lifting their feet, watching their step and not stubbing their toes. They'll find the best way of walking naturally. Especially don't restrict their natural need to move, telling them to sit still will only turn them into passive couch potatoes. Children will naturally know what's good for them and say soon enough when they're uncomfortable, so it's best for parents to just listen to them and not force them into shoes ever. This would work even in the city: City street may make feet black but contrary to what some believe they aren't full of terrible dangers, the cities I know are reasonably clean. From a certain age children will learn not to step into broken glass. Of course they need all their vaccinations, this goes without saying.

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  24. I am almost 70 years old and still barefootin'. Wonderful post!

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  25. I loved this post. I am a barefoot runner and select my 5 favourite barefoot posts every week. This is one of them this week.http://www.barefootbeginner.com/2013/04/25/33/
    As a barefooter, I didn't really learn anything new but it is so succinct and common sense and beautifully put together that I felt I needed to share it with my community of barefoot types. Good job!!

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  26. Living in a hot climate, I live in Brisbane Australia, we were always barefoot as kids and it was quite normal. Even now, after standing on my feet all day and walking around the huge space that is the storage facility where I work, nothing feels better than throwing off my shoes and feeling the cool floor beneath my feet. You don’t have to be a child to appreciate going barefoot.

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