Summer is a time of running barefoot! Shoes optional is the way many children roam parks, beaches, and yards. I remember well the feeling of confined my feet when back to school time rolled around after a summer of barefoot romping, but does it have to be? What if children went back to school barefoot?
Photo credit: Gui Carvalho via Flickr / CC BY
Back to school is less than a month away! As the freedom of summer wanes, teachers begin to develop classroom management plans and curriculum, as well as rearrange classrooms.
What if there were something super simple teachers and students could do to improve grades and behavior such as removing shoes at the door?
Benefits of going back to school barefoot
Research conducted at Bournemouth University in England found many benefits of going back to school barefoot. From improved attendance to increase literacy, going shoeless should be considered by educators. According to the Telegraph:
The study is based on observing and studying tens of thousands of children in over 100 schools in around 25 countries over the last ten years…
Experts believe having children with no shoes in the classroom improves their learning because it makes them ‘feel at home’ and more relaxed when learning.
Stephen Heppell, lead researcher and Professor at the Centre for Excellence in Media Practice at Bournemouth University, said: “Children are much more willing to sit on the floor and relax if they have no shoes on.
“The last place a child would sit to read is an upright chair and we’ve found that 95 per cent of them actually don’t read on a chair at home. When they go on holidays the read lying down.
“Having conditions in the classroom that are like those at home means that more boys are reading in the classroom.
“In shoeless schools children also arrive earlier and leave later, which translates into half an hour of extra learning a day on average. http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2016/05/23/schoolchildren-with-no-shoes-on-do-better-and-behave-better-in-t/
The positive results of going back to school barefoot were first noticed in Scandinavian schools where winter weather forces children to leave their shoes at the classroom door. Scandinavia is well known for having an outstanding educational system. http://www.smithsonianmag.com/innovation/why-are-finlands-schools-successful-49859555/?no-ist Researchers believe why barefoot children perform better in school is because they feel more relaxed like they were at home.
In early childhood education, the classroom environment is stressed as the most effective way of setting children up for success. Classrooms that have houseplants, curtains, soft furniture, etc. feel homey.
When I was teaching, one place I drew the line for safety concerns was children going barefoot. Not only was I concerned about random tacks or staples being stepped on, but there were also hygiene issues to consider. One solution is to keep lots of clean socks on hand for children that come to school with dirty socks or feet.
Another benefit to going barefoot at school is classrooms actually stay cleaner. The Telegraph reports:
Wearing no shoes also means the cleaning bill decreased by 27 per cent and schools need to spend less money on furniture because they don’t need to buy a chair and a table for every child as they can sit on the floor.
Prof Heppel said that because “everything is going in their favour” children’s academic standards tend to improve too.
He said: “The key to attainment is engagement and if children want to be there and enjoy being there, universally they do better. When they arrive late and leave early and are disengaged, their performance suffers. Kids with shoes on are less engaged than those without shoes.”http://www.telegraph.co.uk/education/2016/05/23/schoolchildren-with-no-shoes-on-do-better-and-behave-better-in-t/
There are other benefits to going barefoot, whether at school or at home. Shoes track in tons of germs.
We reported eight years ago that Shoes Transmit Disease, Leave Them by the Door:
After two weeks, more than 420,000 units of bacteria were found on the outside of the test shoes. Of that bacteria, 27% were deadly E. Coli. Also detected was Klebsiella pneumonia, which can cause pneumonia and wound and bloodstream infections and Serratia ficaria, which can lead to infection of the respiratory tract.
President Abraham Lincoln said, “If my feet hurt, I can’t think.” Since children are constantly growing, they often have ill-fitting shoes. Comfort helps children think, therefore they perform better in school.
Saving money, improving attendance and academic performance! Going barefoot at school is a simple way educators can help children transition from home to school with ease.