It is “Storm Watch” time in southern California. Rain is in the forecast for the next three days! So, what are we going to do about outdoor school at TKG? Since our inception in 2011, our mantra has been we play – rain or shine!
First, we have to talk about the physical and emotional effects of children playing in the rain. Is it safe for children to play in the rain? What are the benefits of playing in the rain? Isn’t it really uncomfortable?
First of all, playing outside is a childhood right. Rain (not in lightning or heavy thunderstorm) shouldn’t stop that. Especially, in COVID times – getting outside, in any kind of weather, should be our priority. Children with high energy or sensory sensitivities could benefit from getting outside, being with other children, and experiencing nature at their pace. Don’t forget, playing outdoors supports a healthy immune system. There are literally airborne particles produced by trees/plants that increase our abiilty to help fight infections and disease (see this resource, but a google search provides much context).
Playing through the rain offers an opportunity to feel capable, courageous, and empowered. In other parts of the world, children have to play in different types of weather – it is our sunny perspective that makes the weather, “bad.” Allowing children to experience preparing to be outside and then being outside in a variety of weather, builds autonomy and confidence – especially if you let them be a central part in planning and decision making.
Next, we have to prepare for a positive experience. Does playing in the rain make you sick? What about the gear? Rain does not make anyone sick, a weak immune system does. Of course, take care to help your child prepare for the rain. Help them choose clothing that will keep them comfortable and warm. Do you cringe when they select a t-shirt and flip flops? Yes, you want to encourage them to stay warm but embrace the possibility that they will not stay totally dry. There is evidence that the cold weather decreases your immunity but if your child is regularly outdoors, building their immunity, it is OK to be in the rain for a little while. What we have to be careful of is instilling a fear or mistrust of being outside in the rain.
So, how will we do it at TKG Outdoor School? All of those who responded to our poll support meeting for school in the rain, even on consecutive days. What a WIN that we have a community that values our mantra. During a regular school day, there are books and paper. On a rainy school day, we will spend more time in play and relationship building because writing on paper (or whiteboards!) in the rain is…difficult.
We will let you know about rain day plans the night before. For teacher preparation and group stability, we will do our best to make a decision on meeting the night before (6pm realm). If you haven’t heard by 7am the day of…please shout out via Brightwheel.
In the event of HEAVY rain days (thunder/lightning), we may call the day short or cancel. Please keep your Brightwheel alerts ON. We recognize that this may pose a problem for planning but we have to take overall safety in to account. If the rain forecast is over 60% chance of rain, we’ll plan for a shorter day, anyway.
What happens if we cancel an in-person day due to rain? TKG is an in-person, outdoor school program and that is our preference 100% of the time. When we have to go online, it is not as easy as flipping a switch to do the things that were planned for in-person. Based on your current needs (from our survey), you have requested a longer online meetings on the days we are foreced to cancel. We will do our best to facilitate a minimum of 2 hours of meeting time with breaks/pauses as needed. Based on developmental capacity of the class, we will do our best to extend the meeting time. Your teacher will provide the schedule as soon as they can.
Again, we celebrate our teachers, students, and families – making the effort to keep relationship-based learning going during COVID, in the rain, in these times. You are what TKG is all about!