Balanced and Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children

By: Integrated Learning Strategies

Angela Hanscom, a Pediatric Occupational Therapist, is advocating for the importance of free play in children's lives. Through articles and her book "Balanced and Barefoot," she highlights how child-led play fosters cognitive development, emotional grounding, and motor planning. She emphasizes that when children lack such play experiences, it can hinder their problem-solving and creative skills.

Hanscom also stresses the significance of children spending time outdoors in nature. Being outside for over 45 minutes exposes children to sensory integration through touch, smell, sound, and light. This integration calms their bodies and senses, reducing the restlessness they might otherwise feel in the classroom.

Hanscom explains that fidgeting and wiggling are signs of children trying to engage their resources to learn. She encourages parents to expose their children to both indoor and outdoor natural environments to enhance their learning experiences. Providing the necessary sensory integration is crucial for cognitive development, attention, and focus, preventing potential harm in the classroom.

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