Release those tootsies!

Whilst I trawled the internet for inspiration to help me redesign my classroom into a flexible learning environment, I allowed the first change to take place… it was time to take shoes off!

It was the report on the BBC news website that started me off on this first step.  A school in Derbyshire had followed examples set by schools in New Zealand and Scandinavia by implementing ‘shoeless learning’.  According to the decade-long research of Professor Heppell (by all accounts, a bit of an expert in physical learning space design), behaviour problems are reduced, gentler behaviour increases, children become more willing to sit on the floor and furniture is less damaged.  Why does this simple act have a positive impact?  Well…

“Nobody knows why this works, although there are many hypothesies: in China, it is suggested that reflexology has the answer, in India – respect (as temples are shoeless too), in England “more like being home”.. and so on. All interesting hypothosese, but… who knows?” (Professor Stephen Heppell 2011)

If you ever tell children in a classroom that they can take their shoes off, there is always an exclamation of “Yes!”  They waste no time in freeing their little toes and stretching out their legs.  I know that I always feel better when I don’t have shoes on.  In fact, if my feet are uncomfortable I become very grumpy!

Until now, the children in my year 5 class wore school shoes all day.  Letting them take their shoes off in class time had an immediate relaxing effect.  They were more comfortable and appeared more content.  Some children sat on their chairs with crossed legs.  It was a small step towards FREEDOM!

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