Yesterday morning I sat at my desk watching the kookaburras and the magpies forage in the grass - the incessant rain having bought worms to the surface. And then I spotted her. A child of about three stepped across the soggy grass, her gumboots squelching, toward the birds. Suddenly she turned back to face her parent and as she did, I caught a glimpse of her face as it lit up. Sheer delight was etched on it. Rain dripped off her nose.
She made my day.
This little rain-coated child had arrived for our TimberNook Newcastle program, and she was ready. Despite the fact that it had rained all morning, there she was ready to play. And there her parent was - perhaps a little less ready (as us adults tend to be) but eager to brave the wild weather none the less.
They meandered down to the site with the rest of the group, past the waterfall and through the mud. And by all accounts, it was an amazing morning.
Why do we hesitate to play in the rain?
I was talking to an educator recently about how challenging the last few weeks had been. Due to the constant wet weather, they had been indoors all the time. To put it simply - they were going a little batty. The children were restless, the educators were overwhelmed by noise.
There are a few reasons why educators (and families) have told me they don't go outside to play in the rain, including:
- Mess and Clean Up
- Worried children will get sick
- We don't like being cold and wet
Why should we embrace rainy day play?
Children need to be outdoors. The outdoors is good for our physical and emotional wellbeing and has a multitude of health benefits. Let's be clear - we aren't heading on out when there is a storm, or the weather is dangerous. Light rain and showers though, provide opportunities for children to see how the environment changes, to navigate new risks and challenges, and to explore different concepts.
On the lighter side of things - if staying indoors all the time is overwhelming (for us and the children), then we need to get out!
How do we embrace rainy day play?
There are some really simple things that we can do to embrace rainy day play, including:
- Be prepared - have spare clothes and towels handy
- Gear up - umbrellas, gumboots, raincoats, weather-proof suits (and not just for the children!)
- Make it optional - ensure that children can choose to be indoors or outdoors. While many children love rainy day play, others do not
- Document - share the joy and learning with families so that they see the benefits and value in this type of play.
One final thought. A few years back, we hosted the wonderful Claire Warden for some nature pedagogy events. At one of those events, an educator said that they don't go outside when it rains. Claire pointed out that in Scotland, where she is from, if you don't go outside when it rains you might never go outside!
If you need some extra support to get outside when it's raining, here's how we can help:
Live online training
"But it's Cold - Outdoor Play in All Weather" - Wednesday 15th June 7pm - BOOK HERE
Learning with Nature by Claire Warden - GET IT HERE
Fascination of Water - Puddles. - GET IT HERE