In addition to shoes really not being very good for kids’ feet, there is also a very long tradition of kids going barefoot. Additionally, kids can often go barefoot in places that adults are frowned upon if they do it. It’s as if at a certain age, a cute kid’s foot turns into . . . um . . . something unreasonable(?).
I do a lot of hiking, including various guided hikes at various local or state parks, usually in southeastern Ohio, which is right on the edge of Appalachia. On these hikes, invariably, an older couple, in their early- to mid-seventies, will say to me, “You know, when we were kids, we would go barefoot all summer long. And we used to be able to run on gravel without even thinking about it.” And then they conclude with, “But I could never do that today.”
Well, they probably could. It would just take a bit of conditioning.
But a lot of kids really did go barefoot all summer long (or even longer) and they did just fine doing so. Some kids even went to school barefoot, as can be seen from some historical photos. Here’s one (via the Ohio Historical Society) from a Greene County, Ohio school (near Dayton, Ohio), taken around 1910: