Bare Foot Benefits
All classes at Wu Kai Sha Kindergarten go barefoot at some point during the school day. This might be in the classroom, sensory room, for yoga, physical time and/ or garden time. Children can benefit tremendously in a number of important ways by moving around barefoot.
Why go barefoot?
Going barefoot increases children’s balance and helps them develop good posture. Children keep their heads up more when they walk barefoot because of the sensory feedback they get from the ground that they do not feel while wearing shoes. By not looking down as much, they have less of a chance of losing their balance and falling. Children are also more likely to adjust their movements because they have more direct contact with the ground. These natural adjustments help them develop better balance, movement, and posture.
Develops Body Awareness
When barefoot, they are more easily able to climb, pivot, balance, and adjust quickly when the ground surface changes. This is because they can directly feel the surface they are walking on, helping them to more effectively respond to pressure or imbalances they feel in their feet. This builds neuromuscular strength, spacial orientation, balance, and coordination
When children spend more time barefoot, their feet and lower legs strengthen, they have stronger arches and ankles, and their body is more agile and less prone to injury. Children who grow up with large amounts of barefoot time have wider feet and have a more even distribution of pressure towards the outside edge of the foot and across the toes.
By giving our children more opportunities to experience new sensations, we allow them to enjoy their world in a whole new way. It also gives them a chance to develop a mindful presence and conscious awareness of their surroundings. They ultimately learn how to be more tuned into their surroundings as they move around barefoot.
The South China Morning Post has published an article surrounding the benefits of going barefoot 'Why grounding – walking barefoot on grass or earth – could improve your health, from better sleep to lower stress'
Ways To Encourage More Barefoot Time
Social acceptability can be a barrier to barefoot activities in many countries. Gradually building time spent walking and running in bare feet is key to developing confidence and comfort.
Practicing barefoot time in your home is the first step. Get your children in the habit of removing their shoes right away when they enter your home and do not replace with indoor shoes. Lead by example. Take your shoes off as well.
Slowly explore outdoors
To get your children—and you—used to more barefoot time outside, add one new activity each week or month where they can go shoeless. Try gardening, walking, skipping, hiking, climbing, and beach play without shoes. Be patient, as it might take some time for them to get used to having direct contact with hard and rough surfaces. With some exposure, the soles of their feet will build up a thicker callous of skin
Add different sensory experiences
Expose your children to a variety of materials. Have them soak their feet in warm, bubbling water; bury their feet in the soft sand at the beach; walk through cool, dewy grass; slip through wet, gooey mud; or walk over rough rocks or bricks.
Play barefoot games
Play foot games to get children used to going barefoot. Some game and exercise ideas include picking up marbles with toes, folding the laundry with feet instead of hands, playing string games with feet and toes, or scrunching toe races. In addition, yoga, gymnastics, and some forms of dance are done barefoot, helping to strengthen feet and build overall balance.
What about germs?
Bare feet are exposed to the fresh open air, which helps minimise germs. There are in fact plenty of germs inside their shoes. They are the ideal place for bacteria and fungus to thrive, given the dark, moist, and warm environment.
What about sharp objects?
Assess ground before walking barefoot. Be carful of sharp stones, shells and broken glass. Involve your children in risk assessing as this is an important life skill.
Thank you for reading about the benefits of going bare foot. This document has been put together by Mrs Kerry Ngao through discussions with Mrs Christine Ainsworth and Mrs Linsey Irvine and with information taken from https://modernalternativemama.com/2017/04/26/kids-play-going-barefoot/ and www.TheEpochTimes.com
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