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In our free 1‑clock-hour course, Play­ing Out­doors, we dis­cuss the impor­tance of out­door play for young children. 

Play­ing Out­doors cov­ers many strate­gies to help sup­port young children’s out­door exploration.

In this blog we’ll dis­cuss a few ways you can pre­pare for out­door play even when the weath­er isn’t perfect.

The importance of outdoor play

 So just how impor­tant is play­ing out­doors year-‘round?

Play offers many ben­e­fits for young chil­dren, and the out­doors offers lim­it­less pos­si­bil­i­ties for children’s play.

As a result, out­door play is impor­tant even when the weath­er isn’t perfect.

Twelve months of play

Cold, snowy, rainy, and hot weath­er may present an obsta­cle to out­door play, but in many cas­es it need not pre­vent it.

Cold-weather play

Here are some ideas to pre­pare for out­door play in cold weather.

Prepare: the children

  • keep each child’s coats, mit­tens, hats, scarves, and oth­er cold-weath­er gear in a des­ig­nat­ed spot for easy access
  • ensure that each child has their own sup­ply of sunscreen
  • ask the children’s fam­i­lies to dress their chil­dren in mul­ti­ple thin lay­ers. When chil­dren play out­side (even in cold weath­er) they may become sweaty. Tak­ing off one lay­er at a time can be help­ful as chil­dren warm up as they play.
  • before you take the chil­dren out, check your area’s UV Index here: www.epa.gov
  • before you take the chil­dren out, check your area’s air qual­i­ty here: airnow.gov
  • choose the time you go out­side based on the weath­er, the UV index, and the air quality.

Con­sid­er set­ting up a dona­tion box for fam­i­lies to drop off win­ter clothes as their chil­dren out­grow them. 

Col­lect, laun­der, and store spare coats (rain and win­ter), mittens/gloves, hats, scarves, and boots to ensure that all chil­dren can enjoy the out­doors even if they don’t have appro­pri­ate attire.

Prepare: the space

  • check for ice in all areas
  • look for water from melt­ed ice
  • check for icicles

Place an absorbent rug in your entrance area where the chil­dren can leave their snow and rain boots to dry after they are fin­ished outdoors. 

Ask fam­i­lies to sup­ply a pair of indoor shoes for their chil­dren to change into. Tox­ins and chem­i­cals such as pes­ti­cides, ani­mal excre­ment, antifreeze, ice melt, and motor oil are eas­i­ly tracked inside on shoes. Infants crawl on the floor, put their hands in their mouths, and will ingest these con­t­a­m­i­nants if they have been tracked inside.

Although cold weath­er does not cause or spread ill­ness, cold tem­per­a­tures and dry air can make peo­ple more sus­cep­ti­ble to cer­tain ill­ness­es. How­ev­er, germs spread more eas­i­ly indoors dur­ing win­ter months and spend­ing time out­doors strength­ens children’s immune sys­tems.

Hot-weather play

Here are some ideas to pre­pare for out­door play when it’s hot.

Prepare: the space and the children

  • ensure that there are shady areas for the children
  • before going out­side, apply sun­screen to the chil­dren fol­low­ing your state’s reg­u­la­tions (nev­er use sun­screen on infants under 6 months). Don’t for­get lips and ears!
  • ensure chil­dren are wear­ing cloth­ing that pro­tects them from the sun’s rays. Long-sleeved shirts, hats and sun­glass­es are all important. 
  • make sure chil­dren are well-hydrat­ed before they engage in out­door phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. This is impor­tant at any time of the year, but par­tic­u­lar­ly so when it’s hot. 
  • choose the time you go out­side based on the weath­er, the UV index, and the air quality.

Dur­ing messy out­door play on hot days, chil­dren may enjoy using a hose to wash their mud­dy hands and feet before com­ing indoors.

Remem­ber that infants are par­tic­u­lar­ly vul­ner­a­ble to sun­burn. Keep them in the shade and out of the sun. 

Take pre­cau­tions to pro­tect all chil­dren from sun­burn by sched­ul­ing out­door time in the ear­ly morn­ing or late after­noon to avoid the sun’s most intense rays. 

Lim­it direct sun expo­sure between 10 a.m. and 3 p.m. This is espe­cial­ly impor­tant in the sum­mer months. A good rule of thumb is to seek shade when­ev­er your shad­ow is short­er than you. This means that the sun is over­head and UV radi­a­tion is the strongest. For more infor­ma­tion on the impor­tance of pro­tect­ing chil­dren from the dan­gers of UV radi­a­tion, take our 2‑clock-hour course, Sun Safe­ty.

Limit outdoor time when it’s not safe

Keep chil­dren inside dur­ing extreme heat or cold and inclement weather—blizzards, thun­der­storms, light­ning, and so forth. In addi­tion, mon­i­tor out­door air qual­i­ty for haz­ardous conditions.

How much time should children spend outdoors?

Strive to incor­po­rate ample out­door time all year long.

As few as 5 or 10 min­utes per day can help pre­vent ill­ness and pro­vide chil­dren with stim­u­lat­ing sen­so­ry experiences. 

Inter­est­ed in learn­ing more about the ben­e­fits of out­door play? Look­ing for inter­est­ing out­door activ­i­ties? Enroll in our free online child care train­ing course Play­ing Out­doors now!

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Call us: 1–800-685‑7610, Mon­day through Fri­day, 9–5 ET, or email us days, evenings, and week­ends: info@CareCourses.com. We’re here to help!

One response to “Free Online Child Care Training Course: Playing Outdoors”

  1. Out­door play­ing is a nat­ur­al way for chil­dren of all ages to do phys­i­cal activ­i­ty. It’s good for chil­dren health and to be phys­i­cal active through play.

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