Outdoor time is important for children and a required inclusion in our daily program under our Day Nursery license. Children benefit from the fresh air, exercise, and social interactions that outdoor play provides. We strive to provide outdoor programming everyday. Of course, the benefits of outdoor time must be balanced by the health and safety risks. In our Canadian climate, these risks can vary from severe cold to heat alerts, lightning, unsafe surface conditions, and various forms of precipitation.
We always encourage parents to dress their children for the outdoor weather conditions. In the winter, this would include a hat (warm, close-fitting, and covering the ear lobes), water-proof mittens (gloves do not keep hands as warm), neck-warmer (tubular warmers are safer than scarves), layered clothing with an absorbent fabric next to skin, a warm water-repellent coat, snow-pants, wool or wool blend socks, and warm boots. Extra socks and mittens always come in handy!
You may be interested to know that the Durham District School Board Extreme Weather guidelines set the temperature cut-off for the cancellation of outdoor activities at -28 C, including wind-chill. We certainly follow this guideline and cancel the outdoor program in this case. However, there are other, less extreme temperatures or conditions that may warrant cancellation of outdoor programming.
At Brooklin Mill Montessori School, we monitor the weather and playground conditions throughout the day, as they may change. When the temperature and/or wind-chill drops below -15 C (i.e. between -15 and -28C), we survey conditions and apply our judgement, taking into account the following factors:
We maintain our student/teacher ratios during outdoor programming and continuously monitor the children for any signs of discomfort, frost nip, or fatigue. We encourage the children to keep active and may shorten our outdoor period or modify the time of day spent outdoors, depending on the children’s level of engagement and enjoyment.
Please do remember to bring suitable outerwear for your child everyday so we can teach a love and respect for the great outdoors and enjoy all the benefits of winter in Canada!