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Joyfully Navigating the Outdoors

One of the best additions that has arisen from navigating the Coronavirus has been increasing the amount of time that our students spend outside each day.  The Threes and Fours are outside for more than an hour each day, often closer to 2, and eat their meals outside as well.  As the weather becomes cooler, this will take some extra preparation and modifications to make it comfortable for the children.  

As Alfred Wainwright wrote, “There is no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing.”  Unlike many adults, the children embrace the weather and find joy in the sun, snow and rain; they just need to be properly dressed in order to maintain this delight. The best way to dress your child is to think of an onion and it’s layers!  Having several layers allows each child to be dressed very warmly and then to peel off pieces as they get warm from running around, and then to put them back on if they get cool.  On cold days have your child wear long underwear and snow pants (even without snow), a removable sweater on top of a long-sleeved shirt, a warm jacket, hat and gloves/mittens.  Proper boots are a must, especially on our playground which gets quite muddy.  Have them wear rain boots for wet, warmer days and snow boots for colder, wet days.  It is also important to send several pairs of mittens/gloves into school as they tend to get wet.  Waterproof gloves/mittens are best.  The Threes and Fours begin their day outside, so the children must arrive at school ready for outdoor play, not with their clothing inside their backpacks.  We sit on picnic benches that are often wet making rain pants and snow pants a necessity, not a luxury, as no one is comfortable with a cold, wet, bottom!

“But my child does not like wearing all of this outerwear!”  “But it takes so long to put it on in the morning!”   Think of proper outdoor gear as the “uniform of CCNS”, just like clothes that can get dirty.  Explain to your child that this is the rule of CCNS for certain weather and that the teachers will require it.  Then, plan for extra time each morning to allow for dressing to be a calm experience, rather than rushed.  Getting dressed is an important learning part of the day and ample time needs to be set aside for fostering independence and keeping your sanity!

The other aspect of longer time outside is packing snacks and lunches that can be eaten while wearing mittens/gloves. Although we are huge proponents of fostering independence and self-help skills, sending a child with a clementine to peel when it’s too cold to have mittens off for long, or having gloves covered in squeezable yogurt, are not the best options for retaining that “joy” referred to above.  Think about what you as an adult could manage while wearing gloves and then imagine that while wearing oven mitts, as those actions are even harder for our young children.  

Good snack/lunch options:

  • Fruit & Veggies that can be eating whole, in large chunks or with a fork
  • Unwrapped, nut free granola bars
  • Large crackers or chips 
  • Cheese sticks
  • Muffins without wrappers on them
  • Mini bagels
  • Sandwiches
  • Warm soups, stews, pastas sent in a thermos that can be eaten with a spoon/fork, or even sipped

Of course, the teachers are there to help children as needed, but, the easier it is for children to manage this independently, the more joy there is to go around!

We are blessed to have such lovely outdoor spaces at CCNS to enjoy, and the flexibility and creativity of our curriculum to make spending more time outdoors a natural and beneficial extension to our indoor classrooms.  With proper preparation regarding clothing and food choices, we can be assured to continue joyfully learning despite what Mother Nature may have in store for us.  Please click on the Read More links below to visit relevant websites that address dressing for a variety of weather.