Barefoot 5In 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 . . . Barefoot 4

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?Barefoot 2
In gratitude to Mum and Dad for all those well-grounded, barefooted, gone fishin’ summers.
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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!
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
Gill Connell is the founder of MOVING SMART, co-author with Cheryl McCarthy of Moving To Learn and, just released, G&C in Play TentA Moving Child Is a Learning Child. A teacher of teachers, parents, and young children, Gill is a child development expert with a unique area of focus on the natural development of children’s cognitive, emotional, social, and physical development through movement. Click here for more information.

(c) 2013 Gill Connell and Cheryl McCarthy; reprinted with permission

Photos (c) 2013 Gill Connell

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