Many parents fear that their children will not “like” being outside in the cold, or that they will get sick from being outside in the cold fresh air. For this reason, it is particularly important that young children enjoy outdoor activities from a very early age.
Playing outside in autumn, winter, and early spring, each present their own unique opportunities for exploration and learning. Therefore, outdoor play should be embraced in all types of weather, as it is crucial for children’s ongoing development.
It’s a common myth that children will get sick if they play outdoors in the cold
Winter frequently gets a bad name for making children poorly, in fact many adults associate winter with getting colds and illnesses such as flu. However, it is not exposure to the cold that cause these viruses. The key reason for contracting germs is staying indoors and around people who are unwell. With less ventilation, germs are easily circulated, making children more susceptible to viruses.
By encouraging outdoor play in winter, children gain much needed exposure to fresh air and Vitamin D, which is proven to help improve mood and create a positive mental attitude, while avoiding bacteria. Vitamin D also increases energy levels and sharpens memory.
The physical health benefits of outdoor play
Playing outdoors in winter promotes physical development and well-being. This is because outdoor play encourages the use of the whole body by offering a safe space to run, jump, and exercise key muscle groups, helping to strengthen bones and promote good fitness levels
Through activities such as riding tricycles, climbing, and running, children increase their large muscle use. This increase in physical activity supports children’s gross motor development and overall health.
It is important that children remain active in the colder months so that they continue to build emerging skills that are crucial to their physical development.
The emotional benefits of outdoor play
Outdoor activities also promote emotional health benefits, such as self-confidence, and the ability to assess risks. By encouraging outdoor play in the winter, children learn to identify hazards, such as slippery surfaces, and moderate their behaviour to ensure their safety.
The social benefits of outdoor play
Playing outdoors with others encourages social development and collaboration. This is because play teaches children how to work together in groups, which includes learning to share, negotiate, and solve conflict.
Social outdoor play also provides children the opportunity to exercise and stretch their imaginations. In winter, the physical changes to the outdoor environment provide children with new opportunities for socio-dramatic play, and winter-themed games.
So, by trying to protect them from colder weather, we are doing the opposite and hindering learning and possibly their health.
So please, let’s all do the best for your children together. We will do the hard work, all you need to do is send them in appropriate clothing for cold/wet weather, and watch them flourish.