Winter can be a hard season for many reasons, one main one is the cloudy, cold and rainy or snowy days. The unpredictable and not ideal weather can make it less than appealing to layer up and head outside in search of fun or adventure. There are many reasons why layering up and heading outdoors during the winter brings added benefits to our physical and mental health.
Continued Vitamin D and Improved Immunity
Spending time outside is not just good for our kids, the health benefits are there for all ages. Getting outside of a crowded house allows us to take in fresh air and get vitamin D that our bodies lack during darker winter days. During the colder months, homes are closed up with indoor germs, bacteria, dander, and dust circulating in the air. Getting outside provides a chance to breathe fresh air and get a healthy dose of vitamin D. Playing outside allows people of all ages to build a stronger autoimmune system and develop resistance to allergies.
While playing and spending time outside provides a chance for breathing clean air and improved immunity, it also provides a chance for increased physical health and whole-body exercise. Playing, running and, using gross motor movements allow for students to continue growing and developing over the winter months.
Playing outside with unlimited time and unstructured schedules allows kids to have the time and space to become creative with their play. The outdoors offers endless possibilities to children’s imaginations. Free play time is something that has decreased with the more recent generations of children, yet something that we know is beneficial to developing creative and complex thinking abilities.
When children are given free play time and the option to be creative with their peers, they begin to develop more complex communication while playing. As they play they are sharing their thoughts and ideas, working collaboratively with peers as they play and create together. Giving children this unstructured time allows them to use their voice and speak among their peers–these are skills that are needed as they grow up. Creativity and communication go hand-in-hand and can be cultivated by allowing children free time of outside play.
Appreciation of nature
The more children (of all ages) slow down and observe, the more we can appreciate and enjoy nature. Allowing children to play and observe in the cold of winter can give them appreciation of all types of weather. Children can appreciate the dormancy of winter, the emerging plants as the weather changes to spring, the hot temperatures and humidity of summer and watching the leaves fall and animals prepare to hibernate as fall comes. Taking nature hikes or walks around your neighbourhood is a great way to begin this. You’ll begin to notice the plants and trees during all stages of the seasons.
Make sure to layer up and stay warm
While playing outside in the winter provides so many benefits to our children, it is important to take care to wear the proper clothing. Layering is essential, so as kids move around they don’t overheat and can add layers as they cool down. I have found that hats and gloves are key when the weather is really cold as well as socks and boots. Making sure your children are warm will help extend your time outside and keep their skin safe from cold air.
I hope you do make time to get out into the cold or cooler air wherever you are and take advantage of the benefits of outside play in all weather. You will be helping your children develop a love for the outdoors and extend their communication and creativity skills all while improving their mental and physical health. Enjoy the time together!
Jessica Stallings MA Ed. is a veteran teacher and tech writer. She is a National Board Certified Educator who values teaching the whole child and enjoys working with learners of all ages. Her favourite thing as an educator is to watch how technology motivates all different types of learners of varying ability levels. She hopes to empower learners and families to use technology to help connect them to and learn more about the beautiful world we live in. When she isn’t writing or teaching, she loves to spend time on the North Carolina coast with her family and dog, Fletcher.