Children's play is important, and outdoor play is not an exception. It is a necessary part of every child's upbringing, and this doesn't exclude the winter, even though some parents think it's too cold for their offspring's to be playing outside. But not only is outdoor play an important part of your child's development, it also offers some learning opportunities that are pretty hard to come by in an indoor environment. From new language skills (yes, really) to increased physical activity, outdoor play has a lot to offer, even during the colder months of the year.
Most children who play outside see an increase in their good mood and imagination, as well as a decrease in hyperactivity and obesity. They also learn more about the importance of cooperating and helping other children, and become more creative through time. Now, you might be thinking: "Sure, all of these are good reasons to let my children play outdoors if the weather is nice, but there is no way I'm letting them out during the winter", and that is exactly when this article comes in handy!
Below are four reasons why you should be encouraging your children to play outside, even during the cold months. And don't worry, we will also give you some insight on the best clothing options that will help make their winter outdoor play comfortable.
1. Your children will benefit from fresh air
...and avoid bacteria too, even though most of us associate the winter months with children getting sick (cold and flues are everywhere), and thus, prefer to keep our children inside. But that is exactly why they get sick, since bacteria and viruses often thrive indoors, contrary to common beliefs. Both children and adults who spend most their time during winter inside a heated home are in risk of passing germs to each other.
Yes, this doesn't mean that there aren't bacteria outside either, but exposing your children to them can actually be beneficial, since it strengthens their immune systems and helps them build a resistance against allergies.
2. Your children will get better physical exercise
No one denies how nice it can be to stay home during the winter months and play charades or board games while sipping some good hot cocoa, but this won't help your children physically. Playing outdoor during winter will help your kids move their bodies in different ways. Not only does this help with their gross motor development, it also benefits their sleep cycle and the growth of their bodies.
All in all, physical activity outdoor during winter can be extremely beneficial for children, though they have to stay safe by going inside and warming up every once in a while and by wearing appropriate clothing (more on this later).
3. Your children will become more creative
Believe it or not, outdoor play is a great way to stimulate the imagination of your children, and their problem solving skills. Winter can be messy, even in Australia, and this means that kids will often need to find new ways of playing when the weather is rainy, for example. So, instead of keeping your children inside during the winter, let them experience outdoor play, and they will reap some great benefits from it!
4. Your children will learn all about the seasons
Children often learn about the four seasons in kindergarten, or by watching cartoons, but there's nothing better than experience firsthand the truly magical changes in nature from season to season. By playing outside, not just during the winter, but all year long, children will learn more about nature and the seasons than they would do by watching cartoons or reading books.
Now that we have explored together the reasons why children should play outside during the colder months of the year, you might be asking yourself how to prepare them for that. Here's everything you need to know!
- Think about layering: While your child might be comfortable in a simple shirt inside, they will definitely need to have more clothes on if they want to play outside comfortably during winter. There is an easy way to do this: layering. First, use a base layer that will keep your child dry and warm for a long time. Then, use a middle layer that will insulate the body (materials such as down or fleece are preferable). Finally, use a waterproof winter coat as a final layer, it should be loose enough so it doesn't hinder your child's movement, while at the same time protecting the body.
- Don't forget the lower part of your kid's body: Layering isn't just for the upper body parts, but also for the lower ones. To protect your child's legs and keep them warm, think about dressing them in warm tights or long underwear, and top it with a pair of waterproof rain pants.
- Warm socks are important: Wool socks are the way to go, since they are warm and cozy. If your child gets cold easily, think about dressing him in a pair of cotton socks first, then top them with wool socks, this is sure to keep your kid warm.
- Don't forget a hat and some mittens: The hat should cover your child's ears as well as their head. It should be warm, and preferably made of material such as fleece. The perfect hat would also have Velcro, so that it can be fastened under your child's chin. The mittens are for your child's little hands, they should have thumbs (it makes it easier to play with them), and made from fleece or wood. They can be light, but if there are chances of rain, waterproof mittens are the way to go.
Winter should not be a reason to keep your children inside. The more they interact with the outer world, the better it is! So, give them the opportunity to play outside during winter, and they will definitely thank you for it!