THE RIGHT WELLIES AND WINTER WEATHER WORRIES

Anyone hearing about outdoor nurseries for the first time would be forgiven for questioning why open one in Scotland? It’s cold, wet, windy and dreich, and that’s just between 8am and 9am! Spain, fair enough, the Caribbean, sure, but Scotland? Well the reality is we actually have quite a temperate climate, it might deviate a little but on the whole it’s pretty predictable and benign. The current outdoor nursery model, or Nature Kindergarten, actually originates form the nordic countries who share a very similar climate to ours, if not slightly colder in the winter and they manage…

However, during our more extreme weather conditions there’s an absolutely justified concern from parents; whether it’s ok to have children outdoors all day? As a parent your natural instinct is to keep your child sheltered and protected from the elements, we think they won’t be able to cope for long periods outside so the thought of all day in the woods, in freezing temperatures, seems a bit counter-intuitive. As parents ourselves we share this instinct. Our own children, who love being outside, will wilt in the freezing conditions if they are left just standing around just like any other.

So, there are some important factors we’d like to share to reassure you and hopefully ease those concerns…

Activity

  • First of all, for you or I, standing out on a cold day means we’ll only get colder and colder, but children are so much more active than we are – watch them, they’re perpetual motion! That physical activity whilst being engaged in play, generates a natural warmth to help them flourish in the outdoor environment whatever the weather.

Environment

  • Secondly, the woodland provides us with more natural protection from the weather than you might expect. In winter we are sheltered by the canopy from the snow and frost, in the summer it shades us from the sun’s rays and the trees act as a buffer for the wind and rain, which in our case that’s a year round concern! When the weather seems extreme in your street or garden, it’s already more sheltered and less of a worry up in the woods.

Clothing

  • Alfred Wainwright, the great fellwalker and author, said “There’s no such thing as bad weather, only unsuitable clothing” and we couldn’t agree more. It’s extremely important that the children are equipped with the correct clothing and footwear to stop them getting cold in the first place. Modern engineered fabrics are fantastic and help regulate children’s temperatures without the need for overly bulky layers. We provide a recommended kit list with tried and tested items on there designed for the job and urge all parents to make the investment in these items – they really do make the difference between staying warm and happy all day and a child who’s struggling.

Shelter

  • In addition to all of the above, we have a large but extremely cozy yurt on site where we can warm up around the wood burning stove, play games, have story time, eat our snacks and even have a nap if needed! We also show the children how to build and stay safe around camp fires so there’s always somewhere cozy to retreat to in a quiet moment. Whenever anyone is feeling chilly, we can always pop back inside the yurt to warm up.

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It’s an absolutely legitimate concern to be worried about the impacts of extreme cold, wet and windy conditions and one that we as professionals, and parents ourselves, take very seriously. There are things we need to make happen in order to ensure the children stay cozy and happy. We do however, whole-heartedly believe that the benefits of having the children outdoors, experiencing and learning from their natural environment, far outweighs the efforts required to keep them happy and protected from the harsher winter conditions.

If you have any questions about our approach and how we intend to manage in the winter months please browse our website and feel free to get in touch via our Contact Us page. Alternatively you can message us directly at our Facebook page https://www.facebook.com/fossoplayoutdoornursery/

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