You may have come to your first Kindermusik class and been surprised when you were asked to remove yours and your child’s foot-ware. I usually give the short answer “Barefoot is Best”, and you may have wondered “but…why?
Well – let me tell you!
Feet are among the most sensory-rich parts of the human body. When a child is barefoot, his tactile pathways feel the surface below his feet while proprioceptors (sensors that provide information about joint angle, muscle length, and muscle tension, which is integrated to give information about the position of the limb in space) in the foot join and muscles respond to the pressure exerted upon them. As your child experiences slight variations in the surface he walks on, his muscle strength, spatial orientation, balance and coordination is developed.
Just as stimulating your child’s basic senses (sight, hearing, smell, touch and taste) is important, it’s also just as important to support his proprioceptive and vestubular senses (the sensory system that provides the leading contribution to the sense of balance and spatial orientation for the purpose of coordinating movement with balance). One of the simplest ways to motivate proprioceptive and vestibular development is to let young children run barefoot as much as possible!
To me, knowledge is power. Knowing how important it is to develop my children’s spacial awareness, balance and coordination, how can I not give them as many opportunities for this kind of growth as possible? And what simpler way than to let those little feet run free, especially during our Kindermusik class!
That being said, there are some occasions where bare feet are not safe, or hygienic (playgrounds, public places, etc), and for those times there are soft shoes. Flexible leather shoes that are thin enough that they can still feel the ground under their feet and allow free movement of the joints and muscles (unlike hard soled shoes).
So the next time you’re adding to your shoes to the pile outside our classroom door – remember we only ever want what is BEST for you and your child, and “barefoot is best!”.