Notes from the Naturalist Week 8: The Nature Preschool at HCMA
Oh how that whisper of winter sounded more like a roar today! We worked our way through the cold and the wind but it sure took some of our little naturalists by surprise. It has been said that it is not bad weather but instead its inadequate clothing choices that can make for a less than fun day outside. Nature gives us these days to prepare us for the long winter ahead. Soon, we will have days that will be much colder, yet we will not feel as cold as we did today. As we move forward in the coming weeks, starting off right with warm and comfortable clothing, will set us up for success. When in doubt, send your child out prepared to climb Everest! Aim high, right?
Weather is a mindset. If we tell our children that snowy or rainy weather is bad, well, why would they want to go out in it? As a mom and an educator, I have worked to teach my children about going out in all kinds of weather, even if only for a few minutes. We dress in layers, we find ways to mitigate what might otherwise makes us uncomfortable and miserable. Rain in winter…. put your rain coat over your winter jacket, put a ball cap over your winter hat and pull over the hood! Sounds crazy, right? It’s just an example of making the most out of otherwise uncomfortable conditions. Find what works for you and your children and adopt a lifestyle to stay active when the weather turns to seasonal conditions.
Ambient temperature in winter can really do some of us in. It can turn our toes, ear tips and fingers into icicles. Figure out what really takes your child out of the winter game and see how you can meet your child’s needs. Some children run cold, some hot. Some hate neck warmers and other just don’t want mittens on. In most cases, there is a solution to each problem, it’s just figuring it out. In each situation, taking the time to investigate the problem, usually leads to a solution. While the child may be saying they don’t like the mittens, the real problem may be that they always get cold in them, or the thumb gusset is not fitting correctly. Some children may balk at having a neck warmer on, but it might be because it pulls their hair or is too tight around the face and neck. Simple fixes for those “big” problems, once turned around, make for happy winter kids!
Wind can also play a role in how warm we stay outside. When we have days that are sunny and cold, it seems manageable. But once you add wind in to the equation, the temperature drops significantly. “When the wind blows across the exposed surface of our skin, it draws heat away from our bodies. When the wind picks up speed, it draws more heat away, so if your skin is exposed to the wind, your body will cool more quickly than it would have on a still day” – National Weather Service. Wind was defiantly a factor in today’s time spent outside. It was noticeably cooler higher up on Little Round Mountain around the Slim Baker Lodge than at lower elevations.
And let us not forget that our “Everest” is a small hill overlooking Bristol. Here is a list of clothing that will be helpful to keep our outdoor explorers happy and warm as we walk forth into the oncoming snowflakes that swirled around our heads today!
Winter hat: long enough to cover the ears and thick enough to block out the wind.
Neck warmer: fleece or a lightweight neck “gaiter” are great options – keeping the neck warm is extremely important.
Mittens: waterproof – most children will do better in mittens but you know your child best. Select mittens that have a long enough cuff to go under their jacket.
Glove / mitten liner: this will aid in moments when the heavy layer needs to be taken off for mobility.
Boots: winter insulated boots or bog boots rated to -30.
Base layer: wool, silk, or polypropylene long underwear top and bottom – brands such as “Cuddle Duds” are inexpensive yet work very well – buy several pairs for layering. Please avoid cotton long underwear as it retains moisture and creates cold bodies.
Mid-layer: long sleeve wool or fleece sweater, fleece pants.
Outer-layer: insulated water-proof jacket with hood, insulated waterproof pants, wool socks
Slippers: needed for indoor transition to eliminate soggy feet.
Socks: Wool or synthetic wool options -avoid cotton. Pack two pairs as inevitably children get wet feet.
Notes on Clothing:
Before sending your children to school, first try out the clothing you plan on sending in with them. This will help to eliminate any issues that might arise if you child has never seen or tried on the clothing. We suggest you sit down and go through each article with your child, explain its use and talk to them about what they are wearing and why. Children should arrive at school prepared to be outside for the first hour. Parents can dress their children in warm clothes upon arrival at Slim Baker or send each child’s clothing in a bag for them to put on at HCMA before heading up the hill to the lodge. Think of dressing your child as if they were an onion. An onion has many layers surrounding the center. Each layer traps the dead air allowing for warmth. As a rule, layered children have more options in regulating their body temperatures when they are able to take layers off or put layers on.
For more information on dressing for winter: