I finished reading Barefoot and Balanced by Angela J. Hanscom ( a Pediatric Occupational Therapist) a couple of weeks ago and have been referring back to it ever since. This is an informative book and I really enjoyed reading it! It was one of those books that was recommended to me but took me a long time to get around to reading it. Overall It’s an easy read and one I read all the way through in a matter of days.
Some reviewers have mentioned that this book is great for beginners, who maybe haven’t read any books/articles on this subject and are looking for an easy read that’s clear and concise. I have to agree. I had already read the book Last Child in the Woods by Richard Louv, which I enjoyed but wouldn’t say it’s an easy read as it took me a while to get through but it was full of information. So, not everything in Angela’s book was new to me, however there was some concepts in this book that I had not already come across, so therefore still enjoyed reading it. I also like that Angela refers back to some of Katy Bowman’s work on the importance of whole body movement as opposed to a sedentary lifestyle. I have read several of Katy’s books and articles and felt that both authors are on the same page.
“By constantly rushing children, restricting their movement and diminishing their time to play, we could be causing more harm than good.”
In this book there are nine chapters;
- Why Can’t My child Sit Still?
- The Body and the Senses
- From Restricted Movement to Active Free Play
- The Therapeutic Value of Outdoor Play
- “Safety First” Equals Child Development Later
- What’s Wrong with the Playgrounds and Indoor Play Spaces of Today
- Rethinking Recess and the Classroom
- When is My Baby Ready for the Outdoors
- Getting Children to Play Creatively and Independently Outdoors
“When you compare today’s children to past generations, they just can’t keep up. Children are getting weaker, less resilient and less imaginative”.
After reading the section how How Much Active Play is Enough on page 84, I found it Interesting that the recommendation for the ‘Preschoolers 3-5 years age bracket), that children of this age could use 5-8 hours of activity and play outdoors everyday. This was a good reminder for me to ensure that we do make room for lots of free time to play outdoors during the school week (before school, after school and on the weekends).
I will say though, that my children’s play is always supervised (within reason). I don’t hover over them, but I am not particularly comfortable letting my children, who are both under six years of age play where I cannot see them, especially away from home. I also like to get outside as much as they do and don’t see any harm in getting outside together such as nature walks, bush walking, hiking, star gazing, gardening, kicking a ball or bike riding for example. It’s important that children see adults outside as well.
“Unrestricted outdoor play makes for strong, confident and capable children.”
“While man-made environments may excite children, they may overwhelm or overstimulate them. Indoor environments can also understimulate and offer few sensory benefits for children. The great outdoors on the other hand, offers limitless possibilities for play experiences and exploration of the senses, enhancing and refining the senses through repeated practice:”
Overall I liked this book and have recommended it to a few friends of mine, who want a really easy to read, simple but informative book.
You can read more about this book and other articles on the Blog Balanced and Barefoot.com
Others books on the same topic; A reader recently suggested to me the book How to Raise a Wild Child by Scott D Sampson, after she heard I was reading Balanced and Barefoot, which she says is a more hands on book. Another book which looks really interesting is Free to Play by Peter Gray. I will have to add that one to my list of books to read.
Please feel free to share your thoughts if you have read any of the books I have mentioned or want to recommend a different book on this topic.