Outdoors in the Rain
Fall is here and with it comes wind, rain, hail, and sometimes snow. No matter what the weather, fresh air and outdoor play are critical for children's physical and mental health. During daily outdoor play, children use their senses and muscles, burn energy, and engage with nature. Outdoor play is so important that children should have the opportunity to go outside every day, except during extreme weather or emergencies. The new child care licensing regulations clearly outline which conditions pose a risk to children:
WAC 110-300-0147 Weather conditions and outdoor hazards.
(1) An early learning provider must observe weather conditions and other possible hazards to take appropriate action for child health and safety. Conditions that pose a health or safety risk may include, but are not limited to:
(a) Heat in excess of 100 degrees Fahrenheit or pursuant to advice of the local authority;
(b) Cold less than 20 degrees Fahrenheit, or pursuant to advice of the local authority;
(c) Lightning storm, tornado, hurricane, or flooding if there is immediate or likely danger;
(e) Air quality emergency ordered by a local or state authority on air quality or public health;
(f) Lockdown notification ordered by a public safety authority; and
(g) Other similar incidents.
(2) An early learning provider must dress children for weather conditions during outdoor play time.
To help facilitate outdoor play in wet or cold weather, let parents know that outdoor play is a daily activity, even when it is raining. Ask parents to provide a warm, water-repellent coat with a hood or cap, warm socks, water resistant shoes or rubber boots, and mittens or gloves. Dressing children in layers is good advice. Make sure the center has a complete change of clothing available for each child as required by WAC 110-300-0140(4). Some families may be willing to donate raincoats or boots that their children have outgrown to the child care so that extras are available. When the children are outside, open windows for a few minutes to clear out stuffy air with fresh, clean air from outside.
"There is no bad weather, only inappropriate clothing."
- R. Fiennes
Make a list of outdoor activity ideas for rainy days to help kids explore and play in the weather. A few ideas to get you started are: make a rain gauge and watch water collect; make rain art with markers, water colors, or moistened crushed chalk; use tarps or branches to make an outdoor rain shelter; make mud cakes and cookies with spoons and pans; float paper boats; or jump in and around puddles. The National Association for the Education of Young Children (NAEYC) has ideas for playing in puddles on their website.
"Life's not about waiting for the storm to pass.
It's about learning to dance in the rain!"
- V. Greene