Monday, December 14, 2020

Weatherproofing Children (and Their Adults!) for Winter

Last week we posted about great local options folks have for winter activities. Part of getting geared up for winter is shifting our mindsets and being prepared. Norwegians have a term that's useful in considering weather-hardiness. It's friluftsliv, which means "free outdoor life." In Norway, there's a saying about there not being any bad weather...only bad clothes! 

So as the temperature drops and snowflakes begin to fly, we have some tips and ideas for not only getting your children ready to embrace winter's wonders, but for you, too.

Kickapoo Valley Forest School Leadership Team members Julia Buckingham and Ximena Puig recently led a virtual roundtable focused on winter and weather resiliency. Their presentation included the following great tips we'd like to share. Forest school students and their families will gain lots of experience in embracing all kinds of weather, and the guidelines we have for them work for everyone.

Embrace wonder.
Children absorb adults' energy and attitudes toward just about everything, and the weather is no exception. Be aware of how you talk about the weather and consider being open to the beauty of cold, the way the landscape changes, and the challenge of getting out to explore. Your excitement and wonder can spark the same enthusiasm in children, and this is an important aspect of developing winter resilience.

Dress in layers.
We can't stress this enough. Trapping heat in a base layer and middle layer can make a huge difference in comfort. Selecting an outer layer that repels water and wind is essential. You can always remove a layer, but adding one is difficult once you are out and about. Dressing appropriately helps children really explore without worry over getting wet and cold, and it can help you stay out longer if you've brought along snacks and a bottle of water. 

Wool is your friend.
Naturally moisture-absorbing and lightweight for it's warmth, wool is a great layer. For those who are allergic to wool, there are many alternatives made of synthetic materials or silk. 

Create systems for caring for outdoor gear.
Be sure to make a plan for drying your outdoor gear, hanging it for next time, and dealing with the puddles, mud, and mess that is an inevitable part of coming in from the outdoors. Involving your children by having reachable hooks and spots for muddy boots makes learning to take care of our gear part of the whole process of enjoying the outdoors. 

Julia and Ximena also shared great ideas for some activities you can do outdoors this winter including gathering treasure for ice suncatchers, making pinecone bird feeders, and telling stories based on animal tracks. 

There was a great recent feature on NPR about weatherizing ourselves for winter. Interspersed with fantastic cartoons by LA Johnson about dressing like an onion and eating snacks rich in fat, calories, and protein (yay!), this article and accompanying audio has some excellent tips for adults as we embrace this new season. 

When you come inside, don't forget to read books together about winter life and adventures to inspire your next outdoor day. Here's a list of 100 picture books to read with children. 

Wishing you a wonderful winter season!

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