We often avoid the outdoors in winter, nestled by the fire with our hot cocoa and a good book. But think about what we’re missing! Outdoor play in the winter, when dressed warmly and appropriately, can be an adventure.
Don’t just build a snowman. See how creative your family can be! Try building a fort or an entire snowman family. Go sledding down the backyard hill. Or, just go for a walk to glimpse the beauty of icicles hanging in the tree branches. No snow? Explore the different types of trees, and how differently they look in the winter. Go cloud gazing, pointing out the different shapes. Collect pine cones and make a bird feeder. What kinds of animals do you see playing in the cold?
We all need to get outside to burn energy and use our muscles, and fresh air is a must all times of year! Studies have shown that contrary to the common belief that exposure to cold air causes us to “catch a cold,” it’s more likely that spending long periods of time in small, poorly ventilated areas is the culprit. In fresh, outdoor air, the chance for spreading infection is reduced.
Not only is outdoor time a good practice for families, it’s also good for children in child care situations. While adults that have to bundle up twelve preschoolers to take them outside for playtime may be grumbling as they look for hats and mittens, 4C early childhood specialists agree that the benefits are worth it!
It is up to the child care provider to monitor the weather conditions and make sure our children are safe but there are precautions that can be taken. Some states have even adopted a green, yellow or red guideline system for teachers to use when determining if it’s too cold for kids to play outside. I encourage you to ask how much time your children are spending outside in their child care programs!
So dress appropriately, hydrate yourself and your child and get out there and have some fun!