Toddlers put their joy of life and learning into movement – they are never still and can use their feet as wonderful tools. It’s healthy to walk barefoot, especially as the weather warms. I did it with my kids and now the grandkids; doctors even recommend it. So take off the shoes and partake in foot exercises, challenges and games to help your children explore their feet.
Say hello to your feet and exercise!
• Wake up your toes with a little wiggle. Count the toes forward and backwards.
• Lift one foot at a time and make the foot go round and round to the right and to the left. Then point and flex.
• Take big steps and baby steps. Challenge them to hop, skip and gallop.
• Have your toddler lie on the floor with his feet in the air. Pretend to make your bare feet walk in the air or pedal a bicycle.
Learning left from right…
This is a hard skill but bare feet can help. Using a washable marker, mark your child’s right foot with the letter R and then the left foot with an L. Now begin to give little commands to play this game watching to see if they understand the concept you are trying to teach. Say, “Lift your left foot.” “Stamp your right foot.” “Kick your left foot.” “Touch your hand to your right foot.” Gradually, some preschool children will learn left from right without the marker.
Use feet to feel things…
You touch lots of things with your fingers; now try touching things with your feet. Can you do it? Encourage your children to walk barefoot in the grass, puddles and mud. I know it’s messy, but these are experiences of childhood. Can you touch a flower with your toes? With clean feet, walk on a tile or wooden floor. How does it feel? Help the children to find words to describe the feelings, such as smooth, rough, damp, soft and cold. As an extension, have the children try to pick up objects with their toes and feet.
Play, “How would you walk?”
Preschoolers will love this game where they can act out ways they would walk in different situations. Say, “How would you walk… if you were on a wet floor, on a tightrope, in a puddle, as a baby, an old person, as a duck or kangaroo, and how would you walk if everyone is sleeping?
So, don’t think twice about going barefoot – bare feet are neat, fun and healthy too!
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