The nights are drawing in, and the weather has been positively awful. Snuggling under a blanket and watching a DVD cis a cosy and relaxing way to spend the afternoon, but don't make it your go-to activity every day after school. Despite the freezing temperatures and blustery winds, it's still important to play outside.
Here we take a look at why time spent playing outdoors is important, and ways to incorporate outside time, even on the coldest days.
Children learn best when they have first hand experience. Putting on wellies and jumping puddles, or jumping through the fallen leaves and noticing the bare branches above, provide valuable learning experiences. Talk about the weather, how it changes through the year, and the affect that has on the plants and animals in the environment around us.
All Weather Play Equipment
Most of our outdoor play equipment is suitable for us all year round. Your children might need to wear some extra layers of clothing, but the climbing frame, swings and slide are just as exciting in the winter months as they are in the summer. Trampolines can be used throughout the year, but be sure to take precautions during especially windy weather.
Be Loud, Be Wild, Be Children
It's only once children get outside, with space to run around, and permission to be loud, that they can really express themselves, go wild, and generally behave like children. School days require hours of concentration and good behaviour. If all this pent up energy is brought home and dumped in front of the TV, you may well have a house full of whirling dervishes by bedtime. Stop off at the park, or walk home from school to give them a chance to get it out of their systems.
Green Spaces Improve Mood
Research has shown that time spent in green spaces can improve mood and bring about feelings if calm and relaxation. Being outside for just short spells can have a positive impact on your child's mood and well-being.
Many Children Learn Better Outdoors
For some children, time spent outdoors is the key to their education. When it comes to the winter months it is tempting to rush home from school, put the heating on, and complete homework at the table. But many children will not be in the right frame of mind for learning now. If your child struggles with homework, try setting up a homework club in a den or tent in the garden, or spend time playing outside, before coming in to sit down and work.
Replace Water With Sand
Children love sensory play, and in the warmer months this often takes the form of a water play table. Obviously in the winter we don't want their little hands to freeze, so the water tray gets packed away in the shed. For a warmer sensory experience, try filling the play table with sand, or even rice or lentils. Children can still use buckets, cups, funnels and most their water play equipment, but they won't get wet. You could even bury a hot water bottle in the bottom of the tray to warm their fingers up.