Remember the feeling of warm sand between your toes? What about a twig pricking the underside of your foot while in early childhood education? Going barefoot is not just an essential childhood memory but a potentially health-changing practice we should all implement with our kids. Parents fear their children will be injured while barefoot, but the likelihood of being injured is minimal. Going barefoot heightens your children’s sense of their surroundings and can help them spot sharp objects they need to avoid. Going barefoot frequently also toughens your kid’s feet, leading to more natural protection.
The benefits of going barefoot are plentiful. Here are five essential advantages.
- Strengthens the Feet and Body
The best way to strengthen and maintain the full function of your child’s feet and body is by walking barefoot. Strong feet and leg muscles help support the back to reduce pain and prevent stability problems. The shape and density of a child’s feet directly result from the weight placed on the body. Walking barefoot allows the bones and muscles in the entire body to develop and lead to proper musculoskeletal development. Proper development can also lower the risk of injuries. This physical development can be encouraged with children in daycare through ample barefoot playtime.
- Leads to Better Foot Mechanics
Overprotective footwear can interfere with your kindergarten-aged child’s movements. When your child walks barefoot, it allows for better control of the foot position when it hits the ground. Modern footwear interferes with the development of your child’s foot strength and ankle stability. If a child wears shoes to help stabilize the foot all the time, the child will never learn to stabilize the foot without the shoes. To avoid deformities, weakness, and loss of mobility, allow your child to go barefoot occasionally.
- Helps Kids Stay Safe
It may seem contrary since being barefoot can open children up to stepping on sharp objects. However, going barefoot outside can help keep children safe. They will have more control when running, climbing, or playing on the playground. When children are barefoot, they will be in direct contact with the surface. If a child is doing an activity that requires balance, like walking along a ledge, feeling the surface can help maintain balance and connection. Being barefoot regularly can also help toughen the soles of their feet. If they do step on a twig or rock, the impact with be reduced.
- Fosters a Connection with Nature
When children remove their shoes, they immediately become aware of their surroundings and how the ground feels. Their senses are heightened, which increases their ability to pay attention. Through this increased attention, they appreciate the natural world. Children often enjoy the papery leaves crunching underfoot, the grass’s softness, and the coolness of a shaded rock ledge. The child connects with nature when all five senses are fully engaged, developing a love of being in the natural world at an early age.
- Stimulates Pressure Points and the Nervous Systems
When your child in a daycare centre walks around barefoot, they understand the basic sensory experience of dirt, rocks, leaves, and twigs beneath their feet. Their feet are hard-wired with multiple pressure points and nerve endings that send a message to other parts of the body. Going barefoot stimulates the nerve endings and nervous system in your child. Walking barefoot is perhaps the easiest and most cost-effective form of sensory play.
When we allow our children a bit of time to be without shoes, their feet will strengthen. It can also make the body more agile. Your child’s toes will spread correctly, enhancing proper movement and lowering the chances of foot and lower leg injuries. So let your kids kick off their shoes while in daycare playgrounds so that they can enjoy the benefits of going barefoot.