These 10 ideas are the perfect way to show little ones that going barefoot can be tons of fun!
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Whether it’s tennis shoes or flipflops, kids spend a lot of time wearing shoes! And we think it’s high time to let those little piggies out for a breath of fresh air! Today, we’re sharing 10 fun and simple ways to show kids that going barefoot can be tons of fun!
If you’re trying to encourage a child to tolerate different textures on his feet, or a child who is reluctant to let his feet touch different surfaces, these barefoot activities for kids might just be the way to get his attention and peak his interest.
The Benefits of Going Barefoot
Before we dive in, let’s talk a little bit about why going barefoot is an important developmental experience for kids.
Sensory Benefits of Barefoot Play
When kids are allowed to explore and play without shoes or socks, they have access to tactile experiences that they simply would never be able to get while wearing shoes.
Most kids wear shoes most of the time, so the feet are a part of the body that often get neglected when it comes to touch input. Having the experience of various textures and surfaces touching the skin of the feet can help kids increase their tolerance for a variety of tactile sensory experiences.
Balance Benefits of Going Barefoot
As the tactile system receives all of these messages about the surfaces kids are walking on, the vestibular system helps them balance when standing and moving. Tiny receptors in kids’ bodies cause weightshifts from one foot to another to maneuver varying textures without falling over as they bring one foot forward to step, and then repeat this movement to be able to walk.
How Going Barefoot Affects Body Awareness
Any kind of variant in touch experience makes a person more aware of the part of their body that is being touched. So, when a child walks or stands on prickly grass or squishy carpet, he is much more aware of where his feet are in relation to the rest of his body without even having to think about it. This is called proprioception, a crucial part of sensory integration that works together with vestibular input for optimal balance and body awareness.
Orthopedic Benefits of Going Barefoot
Without the restriction of shoes, more movement is permitted through the forefoot (toes) which helps develop foot strength and development of the arches of the feet. Across the varying surfaces and textures, the toes work to grip and splay to make better surface contact thereby increasing proprioceptive input for balance.
10 Fun Activities for Kids to Encourage Going Barefoot
So now that we know the benefits, let’s dig into the fun part! Creative ways to play…without shoes and socks! Here are some of our favorites:
1 || Go for a creek walk or splash in rain/mud puddles
Try our sensory motor scavenger hunt…with no shoes!
2 || Try a balance beam or slack line or balance on a log outside!
3 || Play a game of Underwater Pearls
4 || Create your own barefoot Sensory Path
5 || Finger paint…with your feet
6 || Try this Feet in the Sand Activity
7 || Draw with your feet
8 || Practice animal and other walks
Try walking on heels, walking on toes, walking on the outer edges of feet, jumping, hopping, taking baby steps, taking big steps, crab walking, bear crawling, frog jumping
9 || Have a barefoot beanbag tossing contest, picking up beanbags with only your toes!
10 || Climb a rock wall or ladders on the swingset or on the playground.
What are your favorite ideas for going barefoot with kids? Share them in the comments below!
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