It’s that time of year again when the days begin to get colder and we start to bundle up our kids for the weather. During these times of transition – late fall and early spring – you may be surprised when you arrive at pick-up to see your child without a coat on. Please be assured that we are aware when a child decides to take their coat off and have spent much time discussing and reflecting on our approach and philosophy.
It takes time for children to get used to putting on layers for winter. For children upstairs in their warm classrooms, the idea of being outside in the cold air can be a distant memory to them. For some, they need to walk outside and feel the air on their face for them to remember, ‘Oh! This is why I need my coat … let’s put it on quickly now so I can go play’. Other children are extremely tolerant of cold weather and their needs may be different. Most children at A Tiny Lab play vigorously while outside – running, jumping, digging, chasing. They are constantly moving. With that much activity they often do not feel cold in the same the way that an adult may feel cold.
During our dressing/transition time to go outside in the morning and afternoon, all children are required to get dressed to go outside. These self-help skills involve putting on coats, hats, mittens, boots and snowpants (in winter). Typically, all children go outside fully dressed. Once outside and once they are into their play, it is then that they may request to take off their coat and these conversations begin.
Often children will play for a while before realizing that they are cold, and then make the decision on their own to put their coat back on. Sometimes they will play for an hour outside with their coat on and then need a break to cool down.
We often hear children saying:
“Hey, the sun went away!”
“I feel chilly.”
“I can see my breath!”
You will hear us saying things such as:
“How is your body feeling?”
“It looks like you’re shivering. Are you cold?’
“Your jacket is over there on the rock when you feel cold”
*to toddlers* “You’re crying. You took your coat off. This is what cold feels like. Let’s put your coat back on so you’re warm and comfortable”
Our intention is to help children recognize what being too hot or too cold feels like, sometimes giving them the words to describe it and giving them the space and time to make that decision for themselves. They are learning something about their bodies that would be lost if they were never given the opportunity to take off their coat and truly feel the environment. They are learning independence, self regulation and body autonomy. We strive to provide children with a safe environment in which they can explore and practice these important self-help skills. Children are learning to be competent enough to be able to tell us if they are cold and to connect feeling cold to putting on a jacket. They realize that they have a choice and power over their own body and how they feel. This is an important life skill for them to acquire in these early years.