Why We Should Ditch The Shoes – Benefits of barefoot learning


At the Woodland this week we have been exploring ‘barefoot walks.’ The children got to have the freedom to take off their shoes and socks and feel the dirt in between their toes. The children loved it! They wanted to explore different areas of the Woodland to feel the dirt, water and mud. They could run, walk and jump around. Here’s why us practitioners love it too:

Development of the brain and nervous system. The feet are the most nerve-rich parts of the human body, which means they contribute to the building of neurological pathways in the brain.

Support foot and muscle growth. Walking barefoot can help develop and maintain an appropriate range of motion in the foot and ankle joints as well as strengthening stability within the muscles and ligaments of the feet and body.

Improve sensory development. Feeling the earth beneath their feet allows children to develop their somatosensory, proprioceptive, and vestibular sensory systems in ways that are not possible with shoes on.

Help connect us with nature. Research also tells us that children thrive in the outdoors and natural environments, so not having shoes as a barrier between our feet and the natural world increases the health promoting effects of spending time in nature for social and emotional wellbeing.

Give children a sense of freedom. Not wearing shoes allows us to blow off steam, relax, and reawaken the senses.

Improves safety awareness Walking barefoot teaches children to assess a situation and adapt to it. If there is a rocky surface, children quickly learn to slow their pace and seek the most stable surface. When barefoot, children tend to step with less force and are more likely to notice if they are putting their feet on something wet/spikey/soft etc.




Implementing Maths in the Early Years


When planning to implement Maths into an Early Years setting, practitioners need to reflect in ways which children learn. For information to sink in and allow the child to really have that ‘WOW’ moment we cannot just put numbers in front of them and ask them to recall or count to 10. Not only is this boring and not something a child would want to necessary do, but the child more than likely will forget within a few hours.

The best way in through PLAY! Seize the moment they are interested make it fun, bring excitement. It is very important for parents/careers to understand that your children are not ‘just’ playing, they are learning through everything they do, exploring how something might work, problem solving within their play.

As practitioners, when we are planning for Maths, we need to ensure this is through active learning as children are playing and exploring, and that as children grow, the experiences we provide support them to develop their own ideas. Maths must be implemented through planned, purposeful play and a mix of adult-led and child-initiated activity. The challenge is to provide a simulating environment for our youngest children, which supports their continuing development as confident Mathematicians. For example, at Little Owls we have scales always available to the children in the environment. The children can weight items around them, explore how the scales might move, why something might be heavier than the other. This is something the child themselves can learn at their own pace on their terms.

Make the most of everyday routines to talk about the quantity of children who are in the room, playing in the sand, listening to the story. Talk about how many slices of apple or roast potatoes there are on the plate at lunchtime, or wheeled toys in the shed. Children also can actively explore and experience shape, space and position as part of everyday play. They need lots of opportunities to move themselves and to manipulate objects. They can find out what it is like being under, over or behind things as they crawl beneath tables, climb on boxes, hide behind blankets and jump off logs.

By including Mathematical talk within play, providing interesting recourses within the environment and giving children opportunities to explore and play with number rhymes and songs will all support children with Maths, giving them to best start to develop their mathematical understanding later on.     

Process Over Product


“It must not be forgotten that the basic law of children’s creativity is that it’s value lies not in it’s results, not in the product of creation, but in the process itself. It is not important what children create, but that they do create, that they exercise and implement their creative imagination.” (Vygotsky)

Children are fascinated by the world around them. They are learning through different experiences every moment of everyday. Children live in the moment and engage in what they are doing, not necessarily looking towards the end result.

Mother’s Day is just around the corner. More often than not we see children creating exactly the same cards with a perfect painted flower on the front. Yes, they are nice to look at as a parent and for you to be proud of your little ones creative skills. However, what learning outcome is a child gaining from this? Nine times out of ten the child is more excited and passionate about the process of how they come to that masterpiece of art. Creating moments and experiences for children will last them a lifetime, a perfectly painted card however, won’t! There are tons of ‘teaching moments’ in the process.

By providing them with freedom and open experiences to make, create and develop whatever, they as a unique child, wants to, their engagement and learning will thrive. As well as letting their individual personalities shine through!

At Little Owls Woodland this week we have been planting some fir trees with the children. Over the week, we took it in turns to have ago at drilling some holes into the bottom of the buckets and layered stones. Secondly, we packed in soil using what tools the children thought best to dig with. We had spades, spoons, buckets, scoops, etc. Then, we placed the fir tree into the bucket and patted it all down. A child suggested we needed to decorate the tree to make it look pretty, so we went on a hunt for some stones. We placed them around the tree and in the bucket. Throughout we discussed all about how our trees will need water and sunlight to grow, about why we needed to drill holes in the bottom of the buckets.

Once we had finished the children just wanted to plant the next one and the next one! Even though they had created some beautiful fir trees for us to admire, they just simply wanted to do the process over again. We later witnessed many children trying to recreate this process again through play. Many parents spoke about how their child had talked about nothing else and really went into detail of the steps we took.

The process of baking is what attracts a baker, the end result is a bonus.




World Book Day


“The main aim of World Book Day in the UK and Ireland is to encourage children to explore the pleasures of books and reading…”

(The Curiosity Approach)

World Book Day has always been an exciting day, as young children are able to get all dressed up in their favourite characters from their favourite books. However, in recent years I think we have lost some of the true meaning. It’s not ALL about getting dressed up! Reading books is at the heart as to why we have World Book Day.

Did you know 1 in 8 disadvantaged children in the UK say that they don’t have a book of their own? 9% of children and young people say that they don’t own or have a book of their own at home, a statistic that has remained static over the past year.

Let’s make books exciting again! Young children love nothing more than to get into a good story! See their faces light up when looking at the pictures and the concentration as they admire the storyteller.

At Little Owl’s this week we have had our favourite books out. The children have loved listening to new and well known stories. We have even acted out some, especially ‘We are going on a Bear Hunt’. We discussed how we handle books and look after them. A lot of our children have really enjoyed looking through the books independently and sharing with friends leading to lots of provocations and learning.

As Early Years settings we can help and support children and their families to assess books. There are some brilliant ideas that we can do as practitioners to share these amazing books.

  • Invite parents and their children to come into the setting for a ‘Bedtime Story’. The children can come last thing before bed comfy in their pyjamas to listen to a story altogether
  • Donate some books to disadvantaged children
  • Create your own costumes at the setting using recycled materials while acting out the story

Let’s continue to make World Book Day about books and sit back and witness the benefits to children of reading a good book, let them show you their fantastic ideas and imagination.