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Wednesday, November 22, 2017

Balanced & Barefoot Book Review

Balanced & Barefoot: A Book Review

By Melissa Christiansen, MA, LPC Intern #73566

Supervised by Katrena Hart, MS, LPC Supervisor #15619

            I am reading Balanced & Barefoot: How Unrestricted Outdoor Play Makes for Strong, Confident, and Capable Children, by Angela J. Hanson.  Hanson is a pediatric occupational therapist and the founder of TimberNook, an award-winning outdoor education program.  

           This book promotes the value of frequent outdoor, imaginative play for a child’s (and a family’s) healthy physical, mental and emotional development.  But what I found most interesting was the value of time and space in our daily lives that Hanson emphasizes. 

            Balanced and Barefoot outlines solid research and advice that free time and free play are the best prescriptions for our kids.  How many of us spend our days rushing families from one organized activity to another, from one practice, game, or other scheduled activity to another? What would that be like to choose unstructured outdoor time over scheduled activities?  What beliefs and needs do we have for these scheduled activities?  Is it possible that much of what look like “have tos” in our schedules could be questioned and shifted? Do we have to? Do we want to?  What would it look like to spend a day, a week, or a month intentionally choosing unstructured, outdoor time over those extra lessons, games, or social meetings?

            The next time you are wondering what activity to line up for your kids, the answer may be… nothing!  Unrestricted outdoor play, the freedom to be bored and to come up with ways to entertain ourselves… these set the stage for dynamic brain growth and physical health.  And we, as parents, model what it is like to take a break from the everyday races and create space to just be where we are. 

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Allen, TX 75013
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