Natural Movement for Kids
I'm a huge advocate for natural movement in my own life, but even more so for my kids. Little bodies grow best when they are able to move freely and naturally. I've always been really "obsessed" with making sure my kids get enough movement every day, because of its importance for brain development.
I read the book Balanced and Barefoot and it really opened my eyes to the importance of natural movement and cognitive development. Kid's brains need movement to grow optimally and the books go into all the amazing research that supports this. I kinda knew this in my heart but had no evidence to back it up until I read this book!
We've built a life around movement and being outside. Our entire homeschool/unschool life is based around being outside, moving! The kids sleep well, eat well, and learn so much better when they've spent most of their day outside crossing streams, climbing trees, and running up trails.
The Importance of the Right Shoes
Our first son was born in California where it was warm 24/7. He ran around the first two years of his life barefoot most of the day at the beach or on the trails near our house. My second son learned to walk when it was extremely cold and snowy outside in Oregon. Since we spend so much of our time outside, I would bundle him up really well and put on very warm snow boots that were extremely hard for him to walk in. I honestly didn't think much of it.
Well in the summer time after just learning to walk in winter, we noticed his gait looked like that of someone wearing snow shoes , even when he ran in flat running shoes!
We immediately purchased some Vivobarefoot shoes ( our favorite shoes of all time ) and combined with loads of barefoot running, we noticed a huge improvement in his gait. He no longer looks like he is running with imaginary snow boots and his running efficiency has improved so much since we ditched the snow boots.
I am now so much more cognizant of the types of shoes my kids are wearing and how important that is to their gait. We almost exclusively use Vivobarefoot shoes for 95% of our daily life. I just love how close to nature they are and the kids can really feel the ground below them. The company doesn't have any dedicated snow boots, so unfortunately when the weather gets really cold, we are forced to wear some clunkier boots but luckily snow days are rare here.
Natural Movement for Kids
What is natural movement? Natural movement is the way humans are biologically wired to move. No matter what part of the world you go to, people can and know how to run, walk, crawl, jump, climb, carry & throw etc. Even if you don't do these movements on a daily basis, humans just understand these movements because they come so naturally. Here are some things I encourage and let my kids do on a daily basis:
1. Climb trees
4. Flip upside down
5. Hang on things.
6. Balance on tiny surfaces
7. Cross streams
8. Crawl on logs
9. Jumping off of high places
10. Roll around/wrestle/rough house
12. Go barefoot
13. Pick up boulders and throw them into the creek
I once heard a mom scolding her kids from jumping off a curb because it would " hurt their knees". I was flabbergasted because jumping off things as a child actually strengths the ligaments, helping to prevent knee injuries later. Unfortunately, we've lost so much knowledge of our own bodies!
But Won't they get hurt?
My kids hardly ever get hurt. Sure, they fall off trees, trip on rocks, face plant, fall into rivers while crossing rocks but very rarely do they end up crying from an injury. They know how to fall, which is a skill that takes a lot of practice. Babies and toddlers need to fall a lot. Protecting them from every day bumps and bruises does way more harm then good. Kids need to put themselves into situations that challenge them physically. This helps them to know their limit and know how to organize their body in the event something does go wrong and they end up falling.
Well meaning folks are constantly telling me my kids shouldn't be up that high, or shouldn't be doing this, that, or the other. And while I appreciate their desire to help, my kids have a really great understanding of their physical limits and if they do something truly dangerous I will be the first person to let them know!
An example of this: We went hiking over the summer on a fantastic trail at Mt. Hood. There were some small cliffs overlooking a raging river. The cliffs were eroding quite heavily. The kids darted off the trail, right to the cliffs edge which sent me into a panic! That was the first time the kids had ever encountered eroding cliff-edges and I explained to them that the ground underneath them could give out at any moment. That was a dangerous situation in which they were completely naive and needed guidance. Climbing a tree 5 feet off the ground is much less dangerous, especially if the climber in question has been climbing trees daily for the past 4 years!
Well that's all I have to say on the subject for now! Hope you have a great day and don't forget to connect with us on Instagram here.