Being from Sweden I was brought up with the old adage "there is no bad weather, only bad clothes" (it rhymes much better in Swedish). What it means is that there was no weather too bad to go outside and play. I have not had an indoor recess in my whole history of elementary school. You were just expected to dress for the weather. Here are 5 reasons why this is important:
1. Health Benefits
Playing outside usually means physical activity. Whether your child is playing in the playground at recess, or playing games in the backyard, going sledding or riding bikes - outside play usually means your child is physically active. The Canadian Physical Activity Guidelines suggest that children and youth aged 5 to 17 should get at least 60 minutes of moderate- to vigorous-intensity physical activities daily. This is hard to do when stuck inside all day. More physical activity not only leads to improved health, but also feeling happier, growing friendships, better school performance and new skills learned.
2. Experience the seasons
If we only allow our children out to play in the summer, they will never get to experience what it means to live in a four-season zone and getting to know nature in each season. Every season brings different opportunities for play (playing in snow is a different tactile sensation than playing in the mud or sand). Not to mention the learning opportunities that happen in each season.
3. Learning life skills
Playing outside, and spending time in nature, are already great ways to develop important life skills. But when you are faced with the challenges of inclement weather, it brings another dimension to the skills you learn. Learning how to dress according to the weather so as to be more comfortable is a great skill!
4. Develop problem-solving and imagination
While playing inside, it's easy to fall into the same activities over and over (as anyone with an older child addicted to screens can attest to), playing outside opens a world of possibilities for play. Playing outside gives not only opportunity for a different scenery, but also different props. Children develop their problem solving skills while learning to work with their friends and their imagination while figuring out what to make/build/pretend outside.
5. Build up an immune system
Being outside increases your exposure to bacteria, dirt, animals and pests. When exposed to these on a regular basis and in a natural way, your body builds up a resilience to them which makes it less likely to develop auto-immune disorders and allergies. Sun exposure will also help restore Vitamin D levels which is very important for us in the northern hemisphere.
When to stay in
Of course there will be times when it is just not safe to be outside. Think frostbite inducing temperatures, hurricane winds or heat stroke humidity. Always listen to weather warnings. But for the most part, the proper clothing can keep your little ones outside having fun in most weather. Put on a Muddy Buddy or rain gear during rainy days. Use proper snowsuits and waterproof mitts in the winter. Stay sun safe with UV-protective summer hats, sunglasses and rashguards on sunny days. All of which you can find at Kids Trading Company by the way :)
So what are you waiting for? Go out and play!