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Playing Outside with Children Year-Round

By Liv Anderson, ECE Assistant Director at YWCA Midtown
December 20, 2017
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When the temperatures drop we have a tendency to want to hunker down under blankets indoors. It makes sense; blankets are cozy and warm—unlike outside.

Staying Happy and Healthy Outdoors

Unfortunately, that impulse doesn’t help us stay happy or healthy. As much as we try, staying indoors more simply means being around more germs. We’re all in close contact with each other and are getting less fresh air. Being outside more actually makes you less likely to get sick! Plus, staying inside limits our ability to get any Vitamin D from the sun. Vitamin D has been proven to help reduce Seasonal Affective Disorder (SAD) or “the winter blues.”

Our Children’s Centers are Outside Twice a Day

At YWCA Minneapolis Children’s Centers, we get outside all winter long! Unless there is a health advisory based on the temperature, toddlers and preschoolers go outside twice a day.

Learning Important Self-Help Skills

YWCA Minneapolis teachers demonstrate self-help skills to the children, like putting on heavy coats and snow boots and snapping snow pants. In the beginning of the winter, teachers have to do a lot of work but always let the children try to get dressed, offering help only after the children try for themselves. This gives children a chance to learn and grow.

Practice Makes Perfect

Having so many chances to practice dressing and undressing for the weather helps them grow into confident, capable kids. Plus, improving fine motor skills improves writing and translates to better kindergarten readiness!

Winter Exploration and Problem Solving

Going outside in the winter helps promote problem solving as children navigate snow banks and experiment with how their toys interact in a cold environment. At YWCA Minneapolis Children’s Center at Midtown, half of our playground is open space which allows children to interact with the elements in a more natural way than a static climber or other play structure. They get to build with snow and find out how their toys change when the earth is frozen.

Fun Outdoors with Friends and Family

Being outside is just a fun way to spend time together with family and friends. Even as an adult, I enjoy getting to spend time running with my parents and brother, navigating the challenges winter brings in the cold sunshine.

YWCA Midtown ECE Assistant Director Liv Anderson and her family before running a winter 10k