One way to improve classroom performance? Remove kids' shoes

Posted: Updated:
Researchers concluded that kids in shoeless classrooms arrived at school earlier, left later, and read more while there. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Researchers concluded that kids in shoeless classrooms arrived at school earlier, left later, and read more while there. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
Researchers also found these classrooms tended to be calmer and quieter, and student behavior generally improved. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) Researchers also found these classrooms tended to be calmer and quieter, and student behavior generally improved. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
A 2013 study found ditching shoes cut classroom cleaning costs by an average of 27.5 percent. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5) A 2013 study found ditching shoes cut classroom cleaning costs by an average of 27.5 percent. (Source: 3TV/CBS 5)
CAVE CREEK, AZ (3TV/CBS 5) -

Education researchers say there’s a simple way to improve classroom behavior, student performance, and save money to boot – encourage kids to remove their shoes.

In a 10-year study of children from 25 countries, researchers at the University of Bournemouth in England concluded that kids in “shoeless classrooms” arrived at school earlier, left later, and read more while there.

Researchers also found these classrooms tended to be calmer and quieter, and student behavior generally improved. As study author Stephen Heppell notes on his blog, “nobody knows why this works, although there are many hypotheses. On the other hand, it does work astonishingly well.”

Shoeless classrooms have started to take off in the United Kingdom and other European countries, but the idea appears to be uncommon in Arizona.

Soma Mandal, a teacher at Cave Creek Montessori, was unaware of the new research but said she has been encouraging her students to remove their shoes for the last 15 years.

“Coming from Indian culture, we have the culture of taking our shoes outside,” she said. “And then taking the Montessori training, the sensorial part of the training is so important.”

Private schools that teach the Montessori Method stress the importance of sensory-motor activities for a child’s development, and school administrator Kathy Catalo said the findings reinforce her long-held beliefs.

“It's very soothing to feel that ground – to feel it's cold, it's warm. You feel comfortable. You don't feel constricted the way you would with your shoes. It makes you feel like you're at home and really that's the bottom line,” she said.

That “at home” feeling is one of the main reasons the English researchers believe shoeless learning works. Heppell writes that in a shoeless classroom, students are more willing to sit on floors and soft furnishings – environments that are more similar to the way they typically read at home.

Heppell also points to a 2013 study that found ditching shoes cut classroom cleaning costs by an average of 27.5 percent.

A spokesperson for the Arizona Department of Education said he was not aware of any statewide restrictions or regulations that might preclude public schools from experimenting with shoeless classrooms. Stefan Swiat said the decision to go shoeless would rest with individual school districts and school boards.

Copyright 2017 KPHO/KTVK (KPHO Broadcasting Corporation). All rights reserved.


Derek StaahlDerek Staahl is an Emmy Award-winning reporter and fill-in anchor who loves covering stories that matter most to Arizona families.

Click to learn more about Derek.

Derek Staahl

This once-uncompromising "California guy" got his first taste of Arizona in 2015 while covering spring training baseball for his former station. The trip spanned just three days, but Derek quickly decided Phoenix should be his next address. He joined CBS 5 and 3TV four months later, in August 2015. Before packing his bags for the Valley of the Sun, Derek spent nearly four years at XETV in San Diego, where he was promoted to Weekend Anchor and Investigative Reporter. Derek chaired the Saturday and Sunday 10 p.m. newscasts, which regularly earned the station's highest ratings for a news program each week. Derek’s investigative reporting efforts into the Mayor Bob Filner scandal in 2013 sparked a "governance crisis" for the city of San Diego and was profiled by the region’s top newspaper. Derek broke into the news business at WKOW-TV in Madison, WI. He wrote, shot, edited, and presented stories during the week, and produced newscasts on the weekends. By the end of his stint, he was promoted to part-time anchor on WKOW’s sister station, WMSN. Derek was born in Los Angeles and was named the “Undergraduate Broadcast Journalism Student of the Year” in his graduating class at USC. He also played quads in the school’s famous drumline. When not reporting the news, Derek enjoys playing drumset, sand volleyball, and baseball.

Hide bio

  • Social Connect

  • Contact

    AZ FamilyAZ Family ContactAZ Family FacebookAZ Family TwitterAZ Family InstagramAZ Family Haystack

Connect with CBS5AZ

 

Saw it on CBS 5 News