Balanced and Barefoot Blog

Outdoor play and the unrestricted freedom of movement-based programs are vital for children’s cognitive and physical development, and help ensure that kids grow into healthy, balanced and resilient adults.

Posted on May 28

How TimberNook Changed My Approach to Parenting

Steve Renner

Steve Renner

I became a parent in the early 2000s, right at the peak of the Baby Einstein epidemic.   The working theory at the time was that the combination of bright colors, moving geometric shapes, and classical music would spark brain development in babies and toddlers.   As with many other “fad” marketable strategies, the evidence […]

Posted on March 2

Why I’m Glad I Built Forts as a Kid

Jillian McCalvey

Jillian McCalvey

By Jillian McCalvey I built my first house at nine-years-old. Not alone of course. Building something as complex as a house takes nothing short of a community. So, I enlisted the help of my two closest friends: Grace and Olivia. We quickly got to work on our “masterpiece” and chose a perfect plot between two […]

Posted on October 26

Occupational Therapy in its Truest Form – An Occupational Therapy Student’s Perspective

Shayna Kennedy

Shayna Kennedy

I broke both occupational therapy and TimberNook down to their fundamental cores and made an important realization: TimberNook is not only a form of occupational therapy, but it is occupational therapy in its truest, most meaningful form.

Posted on July 27

A Post-Pandamic Blessing — A Deeper Appreciation of Nature

Devon Karchut

Devon Karchut

The evening glow is settling in. As the trail dips down, I feel a cool pocket of air around me. The trees are bursting with new growth, and I see three deer bounding up a hill in the distance.  There is hardly anyone else around even though I’m in a park in the middle of […]

Posted on March 30

Creating Child-friendly Environments During Tricky Times

Colleen Christman

Colleen Christman

In 2019, I would have said that in an increasingly overscheduled world, play is even more important. Now, just 4 months later and in the midst of a global pandemic, I repeat the same message, and for a similar reason– play brings joy.  The benefits of play are no secret. Children learn about the world […]

Posted on February 12

Why Adults Should (Frequently!) Refrain from Directing Children’s Play

Elizabeth Wilkins

Elizabeth Wilkins

By Elizabeth Wilkins & Angela Hanscom The woods are unusually crowded with adults. As a TimberNook provider, I am used to being one of only a few adults in the forest. However, today we have our parent/child group out exploring the space. The parents appear just as eager as the children when entering the natural […]

Posted on January 16

Building Confidence & Competence through Play

Chirsta Thomas

Chirsta Thomas

Growing up, the neighborhood kids and I had a special place where we liked to play. We called it, “the dirt field” and that is exactly what it was — a large wide-open space of red clay with a small patch of trees on the backside of a neighboring farm. We loved it, because it […]

Posted on December 4

A Case for Space: Easing the Mind of the Anxious Child

Jenna Trumbull

Jenna Trumbull

By: Jenna Trumbull We have all known that child. The one whose parents spend every morning convincing them to come. The one who spends the day with tears in their eyes, quietly observing from the sidelines. They become overwhelmed and shut down when they have to participate, and they have constant “sore tummies” or headaches. […]

Posted on November 12

“Occupational Therapy” in a Way That Makes Sense

Jade Rogers

Jade Rogers

By Jade Rogers Jade is a pediatric occupational therapist and the director of TimberNook Elgin in Ontario, Canada. She talks about why she feels TimberNook is a form of occupational therapy and what lead her to this program in the first place. Learn more about Jade’s work at TimberNook Elgin here:  When I first became […]

Posted on January 30

Rough and Tumble Play – Develops Strong & Capable Children

Angela Hanscom

Angela Hanscom

By Angela Hanscom Three young boys and two girls scramble up a large dirt hill, almost in unison. One boy gets to the top first and screams, “King of the hill!” Another child laughs and playfully pushes the boy aside, “No. I’m king of the hill!” Each child takes a turn trying to be king […]