With the dark, shorter, colder days of winter setting in, we should still embrace what the outdoors has to offer. After all, who can forget the sense of wonder and anticipation as snow falls from the sky or the joy from playing in the snow and building a snowperson. Then there is the irresistible urge to jump into an Ice puddle and watch as it cracks or when the ice melts away and giant splashes can be made from the water below.
During these winter months it is often common to restrict the outdoor play offered to children, common problems sited include; parents who fear their children will not like being outdoors in the cold or that they will get sick from being outdoors. However the outdoors during this time holds its own special treasures that reveal themselves to the curious and inquisitive minds of children.
As the season changes, children get to see different characteristics in their environment, such as leaves changing colour from green to red, orange, yellow or brown, days might be misty and foggy with little sunshine. Bugs maybe harder to find and different species of bird will be visible during these colder months. The sun in the sky will have a very different feel on the skin to the summer months and the air will much crisper. These enchantments of nature should not be missed as they provide children with new experiences and opportunities to learn about the seasons and lifecycles.
Winter exercise, in particular is essential for muscle growth and gross-motor development. Walking through snow, shovelling snow or piling snow for climbing and sliding activities allows for large scale strenuous activities. By encouraging outdoor play in the winter, children learn to identify hazards such as slippery surfaces and moderate their behaviour in a less safe environment to ensure they learn important life lessons and develop vital skills.
Research has shown that practitioners who have a positive attitude to being outdoors themselves will foster a sense of pleasure in children as they explore and play together. The winter offers a cornucopia of development and learning experiences that really should not be missed!