Why Kids Should Kick Off Their Shoes and Play
Did you know that playing in bare feet helps with brain development in toddlers and kids? It’s a great way for them to develop sensory skills, understand spatial awareness, strengthen their feet and improve coordination and balance. Studies show that walking, playing and dancing without shoes provide exponential benefits for young kiddos!
Bare Feet and Cognitive Development
Research has shown that children’s cognitive function can be improved by playing and dancing on bare feet. Our feet are extremely sensitive and dancing barefoot can be wonderfully stimulating for our littlest dancers. It provides fun and engaging opportunities for them to explore their environment while improving their sensory processing skills. This can ultimately lead to the development of higher brain centers! Just think, playing in bare feet can be responsible for developing emotional control, problem-solving, language, social skills and self-assurance. Additionally, shoes can limit the sensory input received by kids’ feet, which can cause them to struggle with balance, coordination and agility.
One major worry parents and caregivers have about their children running and playing without shoes is safety. This is a valid concern! Playing outside without shoes puts kids at risk of stepping in dog waste, broken glass, bugs, branches and twigs, and other environmental factors such as snow, ice and cold weather. However, children who play barefoot (inside and outside) develop a stronger sense of awareness of their surroundings, allowing them to notice unsafe objects quicker than those in shoes, and have tougher feet. Furthermore, kids are more likely to touch their faces, mouths and eyes with their hands than with their feet, so germs are spread more easily.
Oftentimes, shoes inhibit and restrict movement when children’s feet are continuing to grow, strengthen and develop. Baby and toddler’s feet are mostly made of cartilage, with bone developing over the first few years of life. As cartilage is extremely moldable, children whose feet are in restrictive shoes are not able to develop the flexibility needed for proper foot development. Kids need to walk, run, tiptoe and jump in order to gain the strength and mobility needed to support their growing bodies. This is done by exploring the world without shoes and allowing their feet to experience different textures and shapes.
Balance and Coordination
Additionally, it has been found that playing on bare feet can help improve coordination and balance. Balance and coordination are not only essential for physical growth and sports performance but also play an important role in intellectual development. As discussed above, shoes limit proprioceptive and vestibular input, which are required for balance and coordination. As babies, toddlers and children play and dance on uneven surfaces, their shoes do the balance work for them instead of their sensory systems developing appropriately. In the long run, balance and coordination are needed for tasks like reading and writing, which are essential for learning.
So, encourage your young dancers to take off their shoes and play! Not only will they have tons of fun, but they will also be helping their cognitive development. Barefoot play has been shown to help kids learn important problem-solving skills and think more creatively.
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Learn more about what makes Intellidance® unique
The foundation of the Intellidance® Method is the combination of dance and music concepts, identifying specific vocabulary in dance and music, and developing the understanding of both through the connection between concepts. These connected concepts provide opportunities for children to explore, discover, practice, and create using multiple senses and intelligences. This is what makes the Intellidance® Method so unique!
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