Why children should access outdoor play regardless of the weather
A topic which is always highly debated and can cause confrontation is that of spending time outside regardless of the weather. Some say yes absolutely, others will say children will become poorly from being out in the cold and the rain; others say it depends on the age of the child. However does the weather really impact so negatively on a child’s wellbeing?
Children should have access to outdoor play on a daily basis regardless of the weather and a well-resourced childcare setting with an enabling environment will allow this to happen. Some settings may have canopies and sheltered areas which are great for allowing children to make the most of the outdoors however if this is not the case it doesn’t mean that the outdoors is inaccessible due to the weather. Practitioners should encourage parents to be on board with this idea, and it should be made clear to parents when starting a setting that this is standard practice in early years settings. Settings could provide some of the resources needed by children to enjoy the outdoors or it could be made compulsory just like a uniform. Spaces should be created so children can keep these resources at the setting should they wish such as a wellie rack or hat boxes. Examples of the resources children should have are:
- Waterproofs – This may be a jacket, coat or suit
- A warm fleece
- Winter hat and sun hat
- Scarves and gloves
- Wellie boots
- Sun cream
The weather in the UK is unpredictable so by having these items in the setting at all times it will ensure children can gain the most from the outdoors environment every day. Inform parents that children will be kept warm and will be making the most of what the weather has to offer. Also, remind parents that outdoor clothes may get messy so not to send children to the setting in their best clothes. Dress for Mess is often a good motto to follow. The benefits of outdoor play are discussed and detailed on a daily basis, and all children should be able to experience these every day, rain or shine. Some of the benefits of enjoying the outdoors in all weathers include:
- The sensory experience of listening to and feeling different weather conditions such as the wind, rain, and snow.
- Discovering about seasons and the changes that happen in the environment such as crunchy leaves falling off the trees
- Holistic development
- Learning to manage the new risks that come with different weathers such as drinking lots of water and sun cream when it’s hot, or being careful of ice when it’s cold
- Discovering about living things in the environment when the weather changes for example frogs may come out when it rains
- New EYFS learning experiences such as painting with wet mud when it’s raining or catching rain in containers and talking about quantities and numbers
- Plus many fun activities such as den building to keep dry or to provide shelter from the sun, splashing in puddles, crunching leaves, minibeast hunting and much more
Children should have all the opportunities possible to discover more about the world they live in. Play should not be restricted, or development hindered because it is raining outside. If children have the correct clothing, they are rarely phased by the weather, and this should be embraced. Playing outside can be turned into beneficial learning experiences with some fond memories. Children and practitioners soon warm up once back inside, and it can be made a special part of the daily routine in winter. For example, you may choose to take the children outside on a cold rainy day and then return indoors after lots of fun to some warm milk and a lovely story before sitting down to a warm, filling healthy lunch. It doesn’t have to dampen spirits, and the children will always gain from times like these. Next time it’s cold and rainy make the most of the weather, get everyone wrapped up and go and enjoy outdoor play in the rain.