Barefoot to School

With the end of August, most schools in the United States are back in session or will be soon. For many students, this means the days of barefoot summer are over and shoes are being forced upon them. However, this doesn’t have to be the case.

Most US schools require footwear for pupils, even very strict closed toe requirements for PE (Physical Education) classes. However, there is a growing trend that is starting to gain traction against this trend. As Barefoot at PEfeatured on the news page, a primary school in the UK is now having students remove shoes at the door, and they are finding it improves education.

As a parent, you would maybe like to talk to your child’s school administration to ease the shoe rules and point to the health benefits. It’s true that it’s difficult for one person to make a change, but not impossible. I recently communicated with a PE instructor in the UK that has seen a positive switch in his school. It is a secondary school for boys, ages 11-18, and is having a good education in foot health.

For all PE classes indoors, and many outside, he encourages students to go barefoot for the class. Some are hesitant at first, but they often join their classmates later on and shed their footwear for class. Students have then asked other instructors if they could be barefoot in class and were given permission. With this one instructor’s assistance, several boys now stay barefoot throughout the day and stay unshod while going home.

A few students were asked a couple questions about how they like going to school with free feet. These are some of their responses:

Do you go barefoot to all your classes? “PE and a number of other classes where we know the teacher doesn’t mind.” (age 14) Another student said, “It is natural and enjoyable. I am not embarrassed by my barefeet. All my mates in the class go to school barefoot.” (age 18)

What do you like best about not wearing footwear at school? “The freedom of barefoot. In PE it is safer, healthier, and more enjoyable.” (age 11)

Barefoot under the chairSchools in the US may be more strict on footwear, but a parent can point to schools such as this that find it’s not a problem. Other countries such as Australia and New Zealand regularly go barefoot to class with little thought given against it.

Therefore, back to school may require extra homework to continue going barefoot, but it’s not necessarily impossible. The more parents that you have encouraging a relaxation of shoe rules, the better. In our school above, students suggested to start going barefoot to one class with a friend and the trend may continue from there. Even if no progress is made in allowing bare feet at school, students can often kick shoes off under their desk and enjoy a break from the restriction of footwear.

If you are past your years of school and are in the working world, not all hope is lost. See this section for going barefoot to work.

2 Comments

  1. I would like it if the public schools here in Illinois were open to this. My kids love to be barefoot, however it seems like the administrations of the schools are becoming more strict instead of more relaxed…..as with the Vaccination Schedules.

  2. My daughters would prefer a school where they could go barefoot. Except for school and dance class (ie tap, ballet shoes) they have gone barefoot since they were born. I was raised a barefoot country girl, I’ve raised them much the same. Now at ages 10 and 12, it’s not uncommon for them to go barefoot all summer long. They both take dance and gymnastics (and are often barefoot for both). I have no worries about their feet, both girls have feet as tough as leather. One time one of their friends was over to spend the night and she was in her socks (I don’t allow kids to wear shoes indoors) and they were going outside. April was going to get her shoes and my daughter said to her “just take your socks off, we’re not wearing shoes outside”. Only problem was April’s feet weren’t used to it and when the girls would run across the road, April said it hurts her feet to cross the road. After a few months, her feet got tougher and she got into the habit of removing her socks and shoes at the door. My girls even go through the woods and climb trees barefoot, never a splinter. I also noticed as they got tougher, they don’t appear to get as dirty.

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