As winter and cold weather approaches, youngsters play is often limited to the indoors. Adult fears about safety and negative attitudes of exposure to cold weather are the barriers that prevent children from accessing play in winter months. It is common to hear adults say that my child will not like being in the cold weather, or the cold is too dangerous to play in, or theres nothing play games with. It is up to adults to focus on the importance of childrens play, irrespective of the season. After all, play should not be confined to warm climate. Lets welcome this upcoming winter season with a playful attitude.
How Snowy, Cold Weather Benefits Childrens Development and Health
When the weather falls into the single digits, it is common for mothers to want their children to stay indoors to play. Before you go and curse the cold weather for maintaining your playful children indoors all winter, lets consider all of the benefits that cold weather has when it comes to childrens health, developing, and well-being.
1. Children get to see the outdoors through a new lens
During the summer months, infants become used to the warm, green climate that the season has to offer. After the altered in season or the first snowfall, children view their environment through a different lens: fallen foliages, brown grass, snowfall, ice. This new lens enables them to imagine the outdoors differently and to be creative and play in different ways.
2. Increases in Exercise and Using Different Muscles
The winter months provide us with different ways of moving our bodies, such as sledding, walking up a snowfall hill, or building a snowman. Our larger muscles are put to great use in the winter months due to the challenges that snow offer. This large-muscle use and increase in physical activity support childrens gross motor development and overall health.
3. Get Fresh Air and Avoiding Bacteria
Most adults associate the winter months with getting colds and illness such as the influenza. However, it is not the cold weather that necessarily causes colds and flus it is increased exposure to indoor surroundings where bacteria and viruses live. For example, during the winter months, you turn on your homes heating and venting systems. The bacteria and viruses within your home are continuously being moved around inside. Adults and children who expend long periods of time in a heated and poorly ventilated home, without exposure to fresh air, can easily pass germs to each other.
4. New Challenges and Problem-Solving
Weather that we consider messy offer environments and materials that are inspiring and fun for children; for example, patches of ice, large snow mounds, and trees covered in snow. These environments provide children with opportunities for new challenges, such as sliding down the ice patch and climbing a snow hill. Participation with outdoor environments in the winter provokes new problem-solving skills How can I slide down this ice patch without falling? How fast can I run up this snow hill? Can I climb this tree using a branch as a snow pick? The ever-changing environments that the winter months have to offer provide children with the challenges that they so often crave.
5. Vitamin D Exposure
When we stay indoors in the winter, we are not just missing out on play, but including information on necessary vitamins that the outdoor surrounding gives us. Children get vitamin D through sunshine exposure, and absorb it even though the sunlight is not as warm in the winter. Vitamin D helps govern mental and emotional moods, doing so by increasing serotonin levels in the brain. Serotonin plays an important role in regulating mood and keeping us happy. So the more exposure you have to the sunlight, the highest your serotonin levels will be. It is recommended that you get at least half an hour of playtime outdoors in the winter.