Once my daughter decided she wanted to learn to read. It was not always easy to make her sit down at the desk and learn the ABC as she was very active and could not concentrate for a long time. Also, she was sort of unconfident and would burst into tears and refuse to continue when something did not work. You could choose to stay at the computer screen and watch the video lessons and other apps but it hurts your eyes. And again, you always have to sit down and stay still (immobilized). I became interested in the research of Dr. Heppel "Shoeless learning spaces"
I also studied other studies on barefooting. Scientists, podiatrists and movement experts agree that pebble surface walking helps duly develop muscular-ligamentous system and the skeleton of children. The bones in a child’s foot are not fully formed until the teenage years: shoes deform and weaken growing feet, compromising foot health and natural movement ability. Beyond that padding takes away the sensory feedback from feet to brain and hampers brain development. We try to ‘protect’ growing feet by putting them in ‘normal’ shoes, without realising that most shoes deform the natural shape of a child’s foot reducing stability. When toes are pressed together from footwear that doesn’t allow toes spread, feet begin to turn outwards to try and get stability. Children then learn to walk uncomfortably using their arches to push off with, instead of their toes. Shoes also weaken the hundreds of muscles and tendons in the foot. A child needs to exercise their feet through the natural acts of twisting, turning, gripping, flexing and rolling. More than 70% of our brains information comes from the 200,000 nerve endings in the soles of the feet. Cushioned soles, that supposedly keep kids’ feet safe, actually result in removing the important sensory link between the feet and the brain and therefore, less skilful movement. A strong healthy foot is the foundation of natural movement. Your big toe, muscles and nerves work together to help you move in a healthy way. Children greatly benefit from walking barefoot on a relief surface to foster strong and capable feet.
That is why I had to find an individual way to shift to ‘reading in motion’ while moving on the relief surface. When creating the relief mat or "Barefoot Isle", I am inspired by nature, people and movement, but I am guided, at every step of the journey, by Science and facts.
As a result, we were quite successful. We managed to master letters and sounds. Then we managed short words. What’s more, we are quite positive about the learning process as we played to compose words with the feet. We started with one-syllabus words. Then we went on to put together her name, mom’s and dad’s names, too.
The girl was stepping on the letters to compose a word mommy helped her to pronounce. It’s great to see how excited your kid is. You get the emotion yourself! The kid feels more confident and realizes that learning can be fun. To top it all off, the mat is always on my daughter’s way. So, whether she wants it or not, the letters are always within her sight and at the back of her mind :)
Of course, it is a brief description and it took us more than a day to learn all of this. (Well, the complex words like ‘entrepreneurship’ took much longer:). Some of you might put me down for the unconventional approach. But it’s all individual, if you know what I mean.
The unique features of Barefoot Isles:
(a) they have blunt pebbles, with an expressed level difference to better train foot muscles, toe muscles and legs in general.
(b) they are equipped with a cushion base that can sufficiently absorb some pressure on the joints and makes your walking feel like stepping on the ground;
(c) they ensure regular impact that works in all seasons, in all weathers, and in busy schedules;
(d) they improve your coordination due to three-dimensional perception. In addition to visual and vestibular information, bulges help the brain get more diverse signals from proprioceptive sensors, rather than in shoes, or barefoot on flat surface.
(e) they are more natural and accessible in use as compared to special training devices. They are an integral part of exercises. It saves time and parents' temper.
(f) they contain important elements of art therapy - play of imagination, captivation, and color therapy.
(g) eco-friendly, base cover is made of natural jute or flax, artisic pebbles are made of gypsum painted with water based paint and varnish
(h) they are handmade - sewing, molding, painting, etc.
The carpet islands are not a magic pill for all diseases. But they can surely help prevent problems.
The mat island can be designed with the letters of any language.
The floor islands can be ordered in two sizes: large and small. The size of the large island: 85 x 47 cm ~ 33 15/32 x 18 1/2 in; the size of the small island: 47x47 cm ~ 18 1/2 x 18 1/2 in. Weight: 3.3 kg ~ 7.3 lb or 1.7 kg ~ 3.8 lb. Materials: natural jute fabric, gypsum, non toxic paints, non toxic waterborne finish. You can group any number of large and small islands to create an incredible walking area. The islands also are adapted for hanging on a wall.
Walk at home as nature intended!