Winter Warmer Blog
As I am sure you have noticed we are at a time of year in Glasgow where it is getting pretty chilly! Some people may think this is a reason to spend less time outdoors to avoid the cold and weather. However, here at WOK we strongly disagree with this and believe a new season provides many new and exciting opportunities for both learning and play. In this blog entry I will talk about some of the techniques we employ to help children get the most out of the winter season, whilst ensuring that children always remain warm safe and dry. I will then move on to provide some top tips that parents and carers can do at home to assist your little ones with staying cosy in the cold.
One of the best things about the change in elements is the new natural materials that become available for children to play and experiment with. Over the last few weeks, the children have had lots of fun collecting different colour autumnal leaves and sometimes taking them back to the hall to make some seasonal artwork! We are looking forward to the pond potentially freezing over soon so children can have a look at the frozen water and have a go at maybe breaking it with sticks. Water freezing provides a fantastic learning opportunity to teach children about the scientific processes surrounding liquids and solids. Later in the year we may be lucky enough to be treated to some snow. I have so many happy memories of taking WOK children to the park on snowy days and overseeing fun activities such as making snowmen and snow angels and even taking the children sledging on the hill beside the Burrell Collection. Being out in cold weather and adapting to different conditions helps develop children’s physical and mental resilience. This provides children with the independence to thrive in a variety of different and challenging situations in the future, supporting children’s mental and physical health and wellbeing.
Have you ever noticed when the days begin getting shorter you can sometimes start to feel a bit gloomy? You are not alone! Research shows that exposure to natural daylight encourages the release of the hormone serotonin in the human brain, which causes you to feel happy and relaxed and energised. Therefore, when you are spending more time in the darker hours or indoors, you may notice a dip in your mood. This can be the case for young children too. A great solution to this is to spend as much time in the daylight hours as possible! This is why at WOK we strive to make it outside whatever the weather to make sure children are always getting optimum exposure to daylight. Have you ever noticed that after a day at WOK your child seems to be full of beans, despite the fact they have been running around for almost 10 hours?! This might be part of the reason why!
Whilst it is great to develop children’s resilience and their ability adapt to different conditions, we of course do our utmost to make sure they are warm, safe, dry and most importantly happy at all times! Part of the way that we do this is through the outdoor clothing we provide to children. Children at WOK are provided with a pair of salopettes and a waterproof jacket. We can also supply our recommended waterproof gloves which children frequently wear on a wet day to the woods. This clothing means children can splash (and sometimes even sit!) in puddles without being soggy for the remainder of the day. Waterproof gloves are a great way for children to touch and explore ice and snow without getting colds hands. We can also supply welly socks which are made of fleece. It is important to keep children’s fingers and toes protected as these are the extremities of our bodies which get cold the most quickly and can become painful. To further combat this we always make sure to bring disposable hand and foot warmers to the woods which stay warm for eight hours and help to provide children with extra warmth when necessary.
Whilst children tend to relish a chance to play in the rain, on wet days staff always ensure they set up a tarp in camp so children can be provided with shelter when they are eating or if they fancy a quick break from wet play. Staff also put up a hammock every day in camp in case children need a nap throughout the day. In the colder months, we wrap sleeping children in foil aluminium blankets (a bit like a burrito!), this ensures children maintain their internal body temperature and stay cosy even when they are not moving around.
Now that I have explained the great opportunities the winter weather offers and the way WOK staff protect children’s wellbeing in all weathers, I will now move on to provide my top tips relating to ways in which parents and carers can help to keep children cosy!
- Grab a Hat: Most of a human’s body heat escapes from their head! For this reason, it is useful to invest in a woolly hat to help children maintain their body heat. Hats with built in ear flaps can be a good shout as they once again help to protect children’s extremities.
- Leave the Jeans as home: Whilst jeans may seem like a sturdy trouser choice, denim is not necessarily a sensible material to use when planning to spend a day in the rain due to the fact denim retains water and therefore once jeans are wet, they tend to stay damp for the remainder of the day. For this reason, I would advise dressing children in joggers or leggings to wear under their waterproof trousers when getting ready for a day outdoors.
- Pack a flask: Whether it's pasta, soup, hot chocolate or just some warm water, flasks are a great way to keep children’s internal body temperature up on a colder day. It’s also a great way to keep children warm when they are sitting down to eat lunch and snack and thus are not moving around so much at this point of the day.
- Don’t wash those waterproofs! When your child comes home covered in mud after a day of adventuring, I know it can be tempting to stick children’s waterproofs in the washing machine. However, when waterproofs are regularly washed, they lose some of the properties that make them water resistant, so we recommend NOT washing waterproofs as the likelihood is, they are just going to get muddy again! If your child’s waterproofs become soiled with food or other mess that needs cleaned, this can be done with a wet cloth rather than a full machine wash. If you do need to machine wash waterproofs, I would recommend investing in some waterproofing spray (I buy mine from the Doc Marten shop!) so you can give the clothes a spray after washing. Remember children wear clean clothes underneath so washing outer layer waterproofs is rarely necessary.
- Layer up! Whist bulky fleeces can be cosy, it can actually be more effective to dress your child in a number of thermal base layers. This is because when you dress children in a number of thin layers, air gets trapped between the clothing, providing children with a greater level of insulation.
Hope you enjoyed reading my Winter Warmer Blog!