Why We Play Outdoors Even When it is Cold

snow-covered_mittensAt McKendree Day Care, we go outdoors for an hour each day unless we are experiencing extreme weather –a high heat index, poor air quality,  extreme cold and/or heavy rain or thunderstorms.

snowmanLast year we had an amazing 8 inch snowfall. Heavy snow blanketed our rooftop outdoor classroom, offering us hours of magical play.
National and state early childhood best practice standards recommend daily outdoor play for young children, weather permitting.  ECERS-R , the Environment Rating Scale used by TN to measure program quality explains, “Even in climates with more severe weather, children should be dressed properly and allowed to play outdoors unless there is a danger associated with outdoor exposure.”

Rules and regulations are not the only reasons that we value outdoor play during the winter months.  We believe that there are several benefits that accompany this outdoor playtime.

  1. Children Can Escape Indoor Germs, Bacteria and Build Stronger Immune Systems

According to the Center for Disease Control (CDC). “Outdoor play in winter strengthens the immune system by allowing your child an escape from indoor germs and bacteria and helps form a resistance to allergies.”  And, “When children and adults spend a long time together in indoor spaces that are small, overheated and poorly ventilated, germs and illnesses pass easily from one person to another.” Therefore, the commonly held belief that keeping kids out of the cold will keep them healthier is not necessarily true.

  1. Opportunities for Better Exercise:ice-2

According to the CDC, children should get 60 minutes of exercise every day, and exercising during the winter can be even more beneficial because larger muscles are able to get more use when children move through snow and ice. Increased exercise will help promote a better sleep cycle and can lead to children growing stronger and maintaining a healthy body weight.

  1. Promotion of Problem-Solving, Imaginationsnow-mud-kitchen

A winter-scape offers children a new set of challenges to overcome, both physically and cognitively. The mud kitchen may be filled with ice and snow, the frozen garden beds provide a new landscape for play and children are forced to find alternatives to warm weather play.

  1. Provides Essential Vitamin D:

According to the National Institute of Health, Vitamin D promotes calcium absorption, prevents rickets in children and prevents bones from becoming too thin or brittle. Sun exposure is an important source of vitamin D and has also been shown to improve mood

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