At the end of August, most schools in the United States go back in session. For many students, this means the days of barefoot summer are over and footwear is 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 may need 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 they are 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. 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 bare feet. 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)

Bare feet under chairsSchools 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 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 report about going barefoot to work.