Noses are running, fingers are numb, and it takes lots of time and patience to get everyone bundled up to go outside and play on the playground equipment. When you finally do get outside, everyone’s ready to come back inside immediately. It sometimes seems like going outside in the cold is just not worth it, right? Well, think again! Going outside when it’s cold might only be for a few minutes, but those few chilly minutes will be well worth it. Yes, it may take three times longer to dress and undress than you actually spend in the outdoor classroom, but children’s growing bodies and brains will thank you!
1. Get that vitamin D. Many children do not get enough vitamin D, especially in the winter, mainly due to lack of sun exposure. Vitamin D supports bone strength, lowers blood pressure, and improves mood. The only way the body creates Vitamin D is with sunshine, and it only takes 10-15 minutes to get our daily dose. We’re particularly susceptible to Vitamin D deficiency in the winter when we’re constantly bundled up or indoors. So, give those cooped up preschoolers a few minutes with mood-improving sunshine in the outdoor classroom!
2. Kill the bugs. Colds, coughs, and other illnesses pass from person to person very easily in the winter due to our close proximity to one another. Since we tend to spend more time indoors during the winter, germs circulate in our classrooms and homes. Fresh air can kill some germs and microbes, so it’s important to get outside and take in some fresh, albeit cold, air!
3. A whole new world. Winter brings so many changes. Preschool playgrounds, parks, and neighborhoods are transformed: there are different sounds, smells, and textures. Children learn by exploring hands-on. Spending time outdoors in the cold lets them gain new knowledge, by touching the frozen ground, listening to falling icicles, and even tasting snow (with a warning about the yellow kind!). Go on a nature walk and compare what you see to what things looked like in the summer. How are the trees different? What sounds have changed?
4. Experience new challenges. In addition to new sensations, winter may bring new challenges such as the resistance of running in snow and trying to avoid slipping on ice. These hurdles allow children to use their muscles in new ways, problem-solve challenges, and gain strength in skills they didn’t have before.
There are some days when temperatures are just way too low to even attempt to play outside on the playground (hello, polar vortex!). If that’s the case, opening the curtains and letting some sunshine in still goes a long way in killing germs and improving mood!
Need a good snowball fort for your outdoor winter adventures? Try The Adventurous Child Log Fort with Windows! Click the link below to check it out:
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