You Mean Kids Can Survive Winter Recess?

Hi tsbbntkfhn
Readers! After all the discussion a week or two ago about schools cancelling recess in the (less-than-bone-chilling) cold,  another mom sent in her school’s policy. I like it! Voila:

Dear Parent: Even in the cold winter months, we believe outdoor recess is an important and valuable part of the student’s day in the Hopewell Valley Regional School District elementary schools. With that in mind, we ask that you consider the temperature and weather conditions when assisting your child with clothing for the day. There may be times when the weather is deemed too cold for outdoor recess. We make that determination on a daily basis, but please remember that on most days we will have outdoor recess even if it is for an abbreviated time. Winter coats, hats, gloves and long pans are most appropriate on these cold days.

We realize that temperatures in our buildings may vary, so dressing in layers…is a good practice. In addition, please consider labeling coats,gloves, hates, scarves, etc. as these items of clothing sometimes go missing. Take the time to check out the Lost and Found at your child’s school, as each has a large number of items at this time of year.

Thank you for your attention and continued support and stay warm!

54 Responses to You Mean Kids Can Survive Winter Recess?

  1. Jerri January 15, 2010 at 11:08 pm #

    At my kids school they also go out on the very cold days. I think the policy is that as long is it is above 0 they go outside.

  2. Becky January 15, 2010 at 11:21 pm #

    I don’t have kids yet, but when I was growing up we not only went to recess outside most of the winter (in extremely Northern MN), they also had us walk the 6-10 blocks to the hockey arena for ice skating for our gym classes for about 2 weeks each winter. Obviously if there was some kind of winter advisory they wouldn’t put us out there, but otherwise people were told to send their kids in proper winter gear. And if you didn’t have boots they made you put plastic bags over your shoes to prevent them from being soaked the rest of the day and sent you out like that.
    I can’t imagine what we would do in MN if they didn’t send kids outside when it was below freezing…you’d have to have indoor recess the majority of the school year.

  3. Juliet January 15, 2010 at 11:25 pm #

    As a former elementary school principal I thoroughly agree with the approach taken and the tone of the letter. I would risk assess inclement weather conditions and unless the weather was horrendous, the children would be outside. In 8.5yrs I only ever had one complaint…ironically from a parent who was also a teacher and who was upset because her child’s hair got curly when it was wet…!?!?!

    In the Swedish outdoor schools and pre-schools there is the following policy regarding cold weather:

    ” If the weather is really atrocious or the temperature falls below -10°C then the children will spend up to three hours inside at some point between 8.30am and 2.30pm which is the standard day. However over the course of the year, 80% of the time is spent outdoors.”

    If anyone wants more information about this, please visit my website where you can download case studies in the resources section:

  4. Andy January 15, 2010 at 11:34 pm #

    “With that in mind, we ask that you consider the temperature and weather conditions when assisting your child with clothing for the day.” They need to be told this?

  5. Mike January 15, 2010 at 11:40 pm #

    Kids gotta get outside. During our recent really cold, unpleasant weather, as well as the depths of winter when we don’t go outside after school or work as a family, we find our 6 year old doing laps around the kitchen island. When we ask him why he says he “getting exercise”. It’s hard to argue with that. I’m glad he gets out every day at school.

  6. morninglightmama January 15, 2010 at 11:49 pm #

    You know, I absolutely agree with this type of policy and communication to families, and when I was teaching preschool at a university-based lab school, this was exactly what we told our families, and we went outside twice a day for much longer periods of time than the average public elementary school!

    But, the argument used in our county’s public schools is that socioeconomic factors play into many children coming to school in less than adequate outdoor clothing, and that with the sheer numbers of students in these situations, it’s not possible to provide “extras” or keep tabs on which children are ill-prepared for outdoor play.

    While I don’t want to downplay the very likely possibility of this being an issue for some children, I’ve also seen plenty of kids at the bus stops in inadequate winter coats, without hats or mittens, busily chatting on their cell phones.

    I don’t intend to make a sweeping generalization, but I think there is a case of some parents simply not paying enough attention to what gear is important in cold weather. Perhaps this is because they don’t see the value in outdoor play in the winter? There’s still an overwhelmingly prevalent belief that playing outside in cold weather leads to illness. I believe schools should be taking a leading role in trying to educate parents about the benefits of outdoor play and debunking the long held mistaken beliefs. Public health agencies could certainly support this effort, too!

  7. K January 15, 2010 at 11:52 pm #

    State law prohibits daycare children playing outside when the weather is either below freezing or over 90 degrees here in Virginia. My youngest cannot play outside for nearly a month in the winter, and only morning hours for a bunch of the summer.

    My school-age children are limited as well (though not quite as drastically).

    I grew up in New England and this drives me bonkers… like I really need three boys coming home at the end of a day with so much excess energy and nothing to do but wreck the house (on school days, due to homework and our schedules, not much time to play outside out of school).

  8. marciepooh January 15, 2010 at 11:56 pm #

    My sister was complaining recently about her PE class (1st or 2nd period) because they keep staying inside. She’s bored (although not allowed to use that word) with walking around the gym (mostly girls) or playing basketball (mostly boys).

    The kids were all told at the beginning of school that they needed sweats because they’d go out even in the winter but then the teachers just let them stay in the gym if it’s a little cold. (She wasn’t complaining about this last week when it’s been unusually cold for Alabama.) Apparently her teacher even asks the students IF they want to go out!

  9. Juliet January 16, 2010 at 12:00 am #

    Hi Morninglightmama

    This is a valid point. In fact I blogged about this very recently – click on my name to read the post.

    There are ways around this for schools. Here in Scotland, some local authorities including Highland and North Lanark have provide outdoor wind and waterproof clothing for all pre-school children. Some schools have followed suit and have a selection of outdoor clothes at school for children who have forgotten to bring suitable clothing. Outdoor clothing that is well made will last for years and is a sound investment. Many schools fund raise for this too.

    Also lost clothing with no name tags which is claimed is a useful source of dry clothing. At the end of each year, we kept hold of good unwanted items for the purposes of providing dry cloths should a child get wet.

    There is also the cultural/societal issue that in some, (and often poor) neighbourhoods, how your child dresses reflects the parent. Some parents, particularly of very young children will ensure that the children come in their nicest clothes and shoes to demonstrate that they love and look after their children. These clothes are not necessarily suitable for being outside and they may be the only set of best clothes. Thus it is extra important that schools find a way of supporting these children and enabling them to play outside in almost all weathers.

  10. solinox January 16, 2010 at 12:03 am #

    The over 90 degrees thing really gets me. I was flabbergasted when I moved to the NoVa area and heard that schools were closing one year. I asked why, and they said, “Because it’s over 90 degrees outside today!” I said, “So?” and was told, “But the schools don’t have air conditioning!”

    AWWWWWWWWW!!!! Poooooooor babies!!!!!!

    In Texas, my elementary school didn’t have air conditioning until I got to sixth grade. It regularly started hitting the 90’s in April, and we stayed in school until the first week of June. We had ceiling fans, sometimes they would bring in big “gym” fans to run in the hallways, and we’d happily come out of morning gym class with our hair wet for evaporative cooling.

    Of course, down there, everybody got a snow day if there was even a single snow flake sighting within 30 miles, and CPS has been known to call on families (who moved in from the north) who don’t send a full winter coat to school with their child when the temperature is in the 60’s. Now I laugh at that kind of policy, too.

  11. PottyMouthMommy January 16, 2010 at 12:08 am #

    In the area I live we have a program called “coats for kids”.

    Even when I was a single mother, full-time student and poor as dirt, I managed to donate my daughter’s gently used winter clothing to the program so that underpriveleged children would not go without during the winter months.

    This is especially important in an area of Canada that for at least a week during the winter has temperatures in the -40’s. (farenheit and Celsius are the same at that temp). Our kids aren’t required to go outside for days like that, but they ARE required to go outside for recess any other time.

    I’m kind of shocked and dismayed that there aren’t more programs like the “Coats for Kids” around- surely this isn’t something that no one has ever thought of??!!

  12. Lola January 16, 2010 at 12:09 am #

    Kids don’t feel the cold like adults do. Here, the policy is indoor recess when the day is colder than -20C (-4F)….but it’s the teachers that don’t want to go outside to supervise because it’s too cold.

  13. KateNonymous January 16, 2010 at 12:55 am #

    @solinox, I’ll see your sixth grade, and raise you an unairconditioned south Texas high school.

    Before that, we lived in Maryland, where the winters got cold (not Minnesota cold, but cold). I can remember coming in from recess and having my hands hurt from the process of warming up.

    Guess what–I still have hands!

  14. catgirl January 16, 2010 at 1:48 am #

    I’ve always hated the cold. I remember plenty of recesses where I would sit on the ground or the jungle gym, huddle up into a little ball, and just shiver until it was over. I guess it’s not really fair to expect all the other kids to stay inside, but I know I got much more activity on rainy “indoor recess” days because I could play Twister or jump rope.

    I didn’t have any air conditioning in any of my schools until 10th grade, and those were installed wrong and didn’t work very well. Those hot, 90-degree days without air conditioning were my favorites.

  15. SKL January 16, 2010 at 2:31 am #

    Gotta go outside! My kids’ preschool actually sends a note home if they are planning to go out in the snow the next day. This has only happened once so far (well, it was VERY cold after our first real snow, so I don’t actually mind that). So I don’t usually wear boots on my kids, unless I’m taking/sending them into the snow myself.

    The one day they were going to play outside, I arrived at the school and the teachers were bundling up all the kids. It must have taken them 45 minutes to get all the hats, coats, mittens, snow pants, and boots on all the kids (in between potty breaks). (My kids are able to do all this for themselves, but apparently they are the exception.) Well, after all that, my kids didn’t get to go outside because Soccer Joe showed up for their indoor practice. All that effort for nothing. I am not sure the teachers will ever go through it all again.

    I wish they would send home a note saying “just assume we go outside every day, morning and afternoon. And please teach your kids how to put on their outerwear.”

    When I was a kid, I can’t remember one time when we were kept inside due to the snow or cold. Maybe I’m just forgetting, but I know we played outside regularly in the winter; also walked to & from school and played outside in the neighborhood every day. The class did not determine its recess policy based on whether one child forgot his/her boots. I agree with a previous poster – if you really hold a child accountable for bringing boots to school, very few would ultimately miss a recess they truly desired to participate in. There are plenty of ways of getting used boots, coats, etc. Mine were always multiple hand-me-downs. But I might “forget” my boots if I really didn’t want to play outside.

  16. Merinda January 16, 2010 at 2:44 am #

    When I was a kid in Minnesota I can’t remember recess every being canceled from cold, though it must have been.

    In addition every winter they would turn the soccer field into a skating rink so you could bring your skates and do that during recess. Wonder if they could still do that these days (and that was in the 80s)

  17. Shelly January 16, 2010 at 3:06 am #

    I live in north Florida, and the elementary school where my 2 youngest go has a policy that if it is 55 or below, they can’t go outside for recess. Their teacher actually got scolded because it finally hit 55 one day and she took the kids out, but the policy says it has to be OVER 55 degrees. I guess our southern children and just far more delicate than kids who live up north.

  18. Jenne January 16, 2010 at 3:42 am #

    Having spent a good deal of the winter already in pitched battles over “you must wear a real coat– not a cloak or poncho– in winter weather; you must wear long sleeves or take a sweater to school in winter” with a 10-year-old, I suspect some kids may not be choosing to wear coats, hats, scarves, gloves etc. as a personal statement *rolls eyes* and a letter like this, if it makes it home, is ammo to cut them off at the pass in an argument.

  19. V and B January 16, 2010 at 4:30 am #

    Our letter home was similar… except that it reminded parents that the school keeps winter coats on hand for those children who may not have one.

    I wonder how many schools don’t let the kids out because some of them may not have coats, boots, etc? That’s a problem that we could actually help solve… changing attitudes (it’s too cold) with practical action (here’s free winter clothes for kids).

  20. Jen Connelly January 16, 2010 at 4:51 am #

    My daughter’s school in Pennsylvania had a similar policy although I think they stated they went out as long as it was above 30 degrees.
    The note they sent home was mostly about making sure the kids were properly bundled up with hats, mittens, scarves, warm coats, etc.
    My daughter always wore that stuff anyway since we had to stand outside and wait for the bus but then I found out, despite asking/pleading that parents send winter clothes for recess, they didn’t require the kids to actually wear any of it.
    My daughter, who was 5 at the time, never put on her hat or her hood during recess even when it was 30 degrees out. She rarely zipped her coat up and never put her scarf on. I asked her why and she said she didn’t have to if she didn’t want to which I argued wasn’t true because I said she had to. Her response was the teachers don’t make us. She was telling the teacher every day that she didn’t have a hat because she didn’t want to put it on. I was so ticked. But there wasn’t much I could do about it since I can’t control what she does once she’s at school.
    I thought they should keep the kids inside that didn’t come prepared for recess. Grrr.
    And then we lived upstairs from a Head Start preschool and they took the kids out for daily walks as long as it was above like 30F except half the time the kids didn’t have hats on or even warm coats. I’d be standing on the corner with my dd in my hoodie, coat, hat and scarf and these kids would have light jackets on or just hoodies, no hat, scarf, mittens, hoods or anything. I assume the parents couldn’t afford that stuff. I wondered if the parents even knew they were taking the kids out.
    They were also walking 25 students around a very busy intersection with just 3 teachers (sometimes only 2 teachers) and these kids never listened.

  21. S. Bryan January 16, 2010 at 5:08 am #

    We went out for recess every day, We only seemed to get indoor recess when the weather was particularly miserable. Heavy rain or a mid winter storm.

    If it was cold we bundled up; wet, we wore raincoats and when it was really warm, we enjoyed being outside for a little while during the day.

    In Montreal, right smack dab in the middle of the Canadian snow belt, we didn’t let a bit of snow or rain stop us!

    We were and still are hearty people.

  22. AirborneVet January 16, 2010 at 5:44 am #

    Andy- Yes, the parents need to be told this, especially once the children reach middle school. The reason for this is that most parents don’t even look at what their children are wearing for the day. The kids simply want to look ‘cool’ and have very little regard for the weather. Girls will wear mini-skirts in the winter if they can get away with it. They don’t care if they are cold. And yes, I speak from experience. I did the same thing.

  23. Theresa Belville January 16, 2010 at 6:30 am #

    Our elementary school (in the suburbs of Philly) is really great about getting the kids outside. They sent home a similar letter after Thanksgiving, and there’s been just a handful of days since then that they’ve not done outdoor recess (mainly days when there was either too much snow on the ground that they hadn’t been able to clear, or if the wind chill was really unbearable) If it’s cold and there’s no wind factor, they’re outside! And when it’s cold, it’s even more incentive for them to all run around, instead of hang in the corners playing Pokemon!

  24. Stella January 16, 2010 at 6:48 am #

    British school children are no better.
    My 12 year-old is in her first year at secondary school and normally goes on the bus.
    Anyhow just before Xmas we had tickets for the live version of Top Gear (which I think the US gets sometimes) and we were in a tearing hurry so I went to get her.
    It was absolutely vile, pouring down and horribly cold, and I hid under a tree, but did the kids have waterproofs or umbrellas, of course not.
    Coats aren’t cool (and they have to carry them around all day so they are a pain).
    My 8 year olds no better she loves to wander out of school in her short sleeved blouse having, if your lucky, stuffed jumper and coat in her bag ( often she’s left them in class). I’m sure she only does it to wind me up and to see at what temperature the teachers call her back.
    Mind you having just had several days off because Britain doesn’t stock enough salt to keep the roads open if it snows even she has found her sisters big old coat and remembered her gloves 🙂

  25. Uly January 16, 2010 at 7:16 am #

    Jumper = sweater for us in the US. In the US, jumpers = kinda overdresses, so it’s important to clarify to those of us who didn’t grow up reading brit-books 🙂

  26. BMS January 16, 2010 at 11:05 am #

    My kids leave for school in the morning with boots, snowpants, jackets, hats,scarves, and gloves. My second grader comes off the bus wearing all of these things. My third grader comes off the bus with no snowpants, carrying his coat, perhaps with his hat on, gloves are somewhere…maybe in my backpack…and he switched to his gym shoes and left his boots at school. Head, meet desk.

    Go ahead – call CPS. If they can get him to wear his winter clothes, they can have him already, LOL

  27. Teacher Tom January 16, 2010 at 11:35 am #

    There is no bad weather, just bad clothing. — Norwegian axiom

  28. Lilly January 16, 2010 at 12:01 pm #

    Not all teachers want to stay indoors. I am so tired of that being blamed on teachers not wanting to go outside. Many of us are more than happy to go outside even when it is cold. I for one, feel the school children need to get outside to play and am happy to take them out and supervise. Even on the cold winter days.

  29. Jen C January 16, 2010 at 12:21 pm #

    My kindergartener was so thrilled the other day because it was finally warm enough for them to take a walk outside around the school at recess. It was 42 degrees and sunny. I was happy that she was able to go outside (she is a super-active kid, and can’t stand being confined inside for extended amounts of time), but it was sad, too, because they had to wait until the snow was melting before they even let them take a walk! *Sigh*…..what can you do?

  30. pdw January 16, 2010 at 1:14 pm #

    We always had outdoor recess. Didn’t matter if it was -40 or -50C. Dress for the weather, you’re not gonna freeze to death in 15-30 minutes.

  31. Pennie January 16, 2010 at 1:38 pm #

    I live in central MN, and the policy at my daughters school is that grades K-2nd don’t go outside if it’s below 10*, and kids 3-6th don’t go outside if it’s below 0*. I like that idea… although, I think that kids can handle 10* and above, lol!

  32. highwayman January 16, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    I’m another Montrealer –okay, former Montrealer. The only time recess was ever inside was during a seriously pouring rain or a very windy snowstorm. Otherwise outside we went for recess and lunch (after, of course, eating our meals).

    I’ve also walked to school (1.1 km or 0.7 miles from the house) in weather as low the -20’s on the Fahrenheit scale (-29 to -35 on the Celsius scale) –ALONE. On one particularly cold day before I went walking to school, this commandment was drilled into my head: when it’s that cold for walking and you’re feeling tired, DO NOT SIT DOWN! I was told to go to someone’s house and ask for shelter if I needed to sit down. This was in the mid-1970’s.

    One final note: when it came to storing coat with hat, mitts, and scarf, I was raised with this system of storage when away from home: Mitts and scarf in the hat, the hat in one of the sleeves of the coat. Hang coat up.

  33. furious January 16, 2010 at 2:16 pm #

    on a related subject, what happened to snowball fights and lining up to slide across the ice at recess and lunch??? What happened to our teeter totters? I dont know a single person who got seriously hurt on a teeter totter. And the merry go rounds they are gone too. what happened to teaching your preeschooler to hang on as opposed to making sure they dont have too. Are they going to try to make all the swings into giant baby swings next?lol

  34. Jen Connelly January 16, 2010 at 2:49 pm #

    My kids walk every day so they leave in coats, hats, boots and the girls wear some kind of pants under their uniforms.
    My 1st grader comes out every day wearing exactly what she went to school in. My 4th grader comes out with her coat on, no hat, no boots, no pants and her coat is wide open, hood off.
    I yelled at her the other day when I picked her up and refused to leave the school grounds until she zipped up and put her hood on. We stood there for 5 minutes before she did it.
    And I found out that morning that she hasn’t been zipping her coat up at all. It has a flap that covers the zipper and is held with velcro so she is just using the velcro. For awhile she was pulling the hood off so she wouldn’t have to wear it but not taking a hat. She drives me nuts. She’s already at that stage where she thinks she knows more then me. She’s only 9 1/2.

    Personally, I’d rather they not go out if it’s too much below freezing. Not everyone has the money for proper winter gear. The coat my son had last year was not rated for below freezing weather. He HAD to wear a hoodie under it for insulation and even then he was always cold.
    We had many years like that when the kids were little because we relied on what we could afford or old hand me down coats. Last year my 2 older girls (then 8 and 6) had 1 pair of snow pants between them and only one set of warm mittens (they somehow lost the other set). So when we finally got snow one of them had to wear layers of pants and 2 of those cheap, stretchy gloves or just not go outside.

    I remember as a kid, also, I didn’t always have a winter coat that was warm enough for sub-freezing temps even with sweaters underneath or boots (I rarely ever had boots growing up). We had to make due.

  35. kbrum January 16, 2010 at 6:16 pm #

    @ jen c
    I just absolutely loathed being forced and hassled by my mother to wear coats, hats , zipped up hooodies, stockings, gloves etc. “You’ll catch a cold!” – but I never did. I always was way too hot. I would tear/cut or lose these items just so I wouldn’t have to wear them to my mother’s considerable distress. And my own since I hated the deception. I still loath being overdressed . Grown ups forget that when you run around you get hot..
    Let the kids work out what they can bear to wear on their own. If they get cold they know what to do. Give them a chance.

  36. gramomster January 16, 2010 at 10:01 pm #

    Our preschool, and the charter school upstairs, has the kids out all. the. time. They suggest that if you can, have a pair of snowpants for school and a pair for home, same with boots. And, the have tons of extras. The first snow, hadn’t gotten the boy a pair of boots yet, and I came to pick him up to find him in fluffy pink boots that he’d chosen from the extras. I buy ALL the snowgear used. Either Goodwill/Salvation Army, or our local kids’ consignment store. Last year, full on Columbia snow pants and jacket for $12. This year, Columbia jacket, $7.50, and a snowsuit for home, $9. Even if I could afford the new stuff, I wouldn’t pay that kind of money for people who will not be able to get a second season, let alone 3rd, from their gear.
    We did not opt for 2 pair of boots this year. We keep a pair of sneakers at school, and he wears his boots everyday. Thus, he’s always sure to have them. He has to have his feet covered to leave the house 🙂
    And he has last year’s home snowpants, with the straps allllll the way extended, for school pants this year. Providing enough gear can be done.

    All the elementary schools around seem to have a little slope somewhere on the grounds. Kids can be seen sledding throughout the course of the day. Yippee!

  37. Kimberly January 16, 2010 at 11:36 pm #

    I’m in total agreement with you. I told my partner teacher that if it is her week to do recess duty and she doesn’t want to go outside – I’ll switch with her. I have less behavior problems in the afternoons if they go out. Besides in Texas we are required to have X number of minutes physical activity time.

    To make that time there are two choices. You have PE every day and cut Music and Art classes or you combined PE and Recess time to make the minutes keeping Music and Art.

    At my school kids have at least 90 minutes of PE a week 45 min Art, Music, Library – and every class is supposed to have 150 min of recess each week. If we call recess with out a good reason – we are violating the law. I call it for too cold for the jackets my kids have (rarely had to do it in the past – but this year has been very cold), or if it is raining – meaning steady downpour with lightening. I have also called it if we had an ozone or pollution warning – but that hasn’t happened in several years.

    When the weather report says we will probably have to stay inside. I bring my Wii with Wii fit plus and Wii active. My class stacks the desks against the wall. I roll dice to choose students from a list to use the controls and everyone follows along – so they get some exercise.

    My desks are easy to push out of the way, because most of the time my kids are sprawled on the floor with their laptops, books, video cameras, still cameras and paper. It would be easier if I could just get rid of the desks – but they require I use them for TAKS tests.

    If the free range movement wants to do something for education – Get rid of No Child Left Behind and the testing as only measure of learning mentality.

  38. Alyssa Morris January 17, 2010 at 12:05 am #

    I live near Montgomery AL and my kids don’t even have recess! Their reasoning (excuse) is that they have PE every day, but that is an organized activity and I think kids need to be able to just run and play and be social.

    When we lived in New Hampshire, the kids went out twice a day. Even in the snow. They took the time to get everyone bundled up twice a day and here in AL, nothing. It is driving me crazy and I’m so thankful we only have to live here for a year (Air Force family).

  39. RileyKay January 17, 2010 at 2:47 am #

    It’s so funny reading all the different policies from different climates. Our summers would get into upwards of 115 degrees (F) and they’d send us out (I was born in ’84). If there was even an inch of snow, though … snow day! I think even that was more about transportation than anything because all the schools were on the other side of a pretty curvy pass we call Deadwood. It would be impossible to get the kids home if the pass was closed.

    I remember being out in the pouring rain (practically zero visibility) and just playing under the awnings. They had hopscotch and four square lines on the sidewalks under cover; we had coats and unbrellas, balls and jump ropes … why stay inside?

  40. Library Diva January 17, 2010 at 3:37 am #

    I liked the second-to-last line of that letter. “Please check the lost-and-found…” I can just picture a poor copier-paper box BURIED under the weight of single mittens, hats and scarves.

  41. BMS January 17, 2010 at 3:40 am #

    @ Jen Connelly:

    Over the course of my kids’ lives, I have spent a grand total of maybe $50 on winter gear. I shop yard sales and rummage sales and buy stuff that they may not fit in for a couple of years if it is cheap enough. I also get lots of hand me downs – I accept anything, and pass on what I don’t need. Paying full price for something they may wear for 4 months seems nuts. It is also much less exasperating when they do lose things – I am not out an insane amount of money. But I swear – I could find my kids’ school by following the trail of hats and gloves.

  42. Cyn January 17, 2010 at 5:36 am #

    I’m a teacher and what we would do is first of all, save any winter clothing items not claimed from the lost and found by the end of the year and use those to stock a closet of clothes for those kids who didn’t come dressed for the weather. Secondly, we would go and purchase items at Goodwill etc. so that we could get cheap enough items to supplement the closet if needed. Thirdly, we would ask for donations from people of their outgrown items and we would go to some local seniors’ groups who provided us with food for our breakfast program and lunch cupboard and then would also collect items for our closet. I taught at a large school in one of the poorest neighbourhoods in the city but through all of these sources we always managed to have enough winter clothing on hand to properly dress all of our students for the Canadian winter weather. In addition, our local high schools would also run the Coats for Kids collection programs and then send the collections on to us and there were clothing businesses we approached who would give us their seconds and churches willing to take it on as a project. I believe there are ways of accomplishing this if schools are willing to really look into it. I also have found though that we have had many winters that are far less severe than we used to and some of us have become “soft” because of it. We had 6 inches of snow one day and people were calling it a blizzard. Clearly they have never lived through a true blizzard!

  43. Phoebe January 17, 2010 at 8:49 am #

    Here in Alaska, kids go outside until it’s -20F. Layers, layers, layers. Boggles the mind, eh? 😉

    That said, a friend of mine is an aide @ an elementary school in VT and she said that recently, kids have *not* been going outside under 20 degrees!

  44. Kimberly January 17, 2010 at 11:11 am #

    I can’t remember if my children’s school policy is 0 F or 10 F to be “too cold” to go outside. Honestly, it has more to do with windchill than anything else. I’m in Vermont.

  45. Mike January 18, 2010 at 1:42 pm #

    I attended 3rd-6th grade in Massachusetts in the late 1960’s. The school grounds had a dramatic, grassy slope with the school, swings and jungle gym at the top, and ballfields at the bottom. It was all wide open for recess, plenty of territory to spread out. But in the winter, the big fun was sledding on the hill. The school supplied three big toboggans and a teacher to supervise, and kids were allowed to bring sleds and disks and whatnot. It was tons of fun, and probably completely outside the bounds of what would be allowed these days!

  46. N January 18, 2010 at 9:14 pm #

    At my daughter’s school, I thought the cutoff to go outside was 20 degrees, but then they were outside one day when it was 15, so I guess I was wrong. They dress warm and they’re used to cold weather. They need to get the excess energy worked out of them.

  47. Susan2 January 19, 2010 at 1:43 am #

    @Kimberley – You’re absolutely right. I don’t think the cut off should be temperature; it should be windchill. When I lived in Wisconsin, there were many beautiful, still, winter days that were below 0 F, that were great to play outside in. Then March came with its deceptively warmer temperatures, but that howling wind, and a windchill well below 0 (like 10-20 degrees below 0). I, for one, would not expect a teacher to go out in that. The kids walking just a few blocks to school would arrive with windburn, crying from the wind in their eyes, etc. But I think most schools in far northern climes, like MN, WI, etc. are aware of this because windchill affects everyone living there so acutely, so I’m guessing they also include wind chill, even if it’s not official.

  48. Kristine January 19, 2010 at 5:24 pm #

    Interesting discussion! Coming from Norway, I think the kids should go out pretty much whatever the weather, and they do here – down to about -20 C, when they get to stay inside. But it’s the responsibility of parents to make sure the kids have the right clothes for the weather. I think breaktime in winter is the most fun they have all year, sledging and playing in the snow. They also have at least one “winter-sport” day a year, where they (shock, horror) spend all day outside skiing and skating.

    I have also seen the other side though, when I lived in England. I remember one year we had one day of snow, and I took my DD to preschool all excited because I thought they’d be out playing all day, I dressed her up in full snowgear. When we turned up though, all the other kids were wearing trainers and thin coats, so even if they wanted to (they probably didn’t), they couldn’t have taken the kids outside. So I don’t think it’s all the school’s fault either.

  49. Raketemensch January 20, 2010 at 12:48 am #

    Our kids preschool has a very clear rule — if the temp is above 0, they *will* go outside.

    Snowpants, boots, etc are required on those days. Done and done.

    Personally, I think it’s awesome.

  50. KateNonymous January 20, 2010 at 3:47 am #

    “I dont know a single person who got seriously hurt on a teeter totter.”

    I do, actually. I don’t think he was on it, but he was one of several kids playing with the teeter totter, and it came down on his head and his top teeth went through his lower lip.

    I don’t think that’s a reason to ban them, though. That kid hurt and bled, and had to go to the ER, but he was fine pretty quickly–and learned to be more careful. Oh, and also no one got sued.

  51. Chrystal @ Happy Mothering January 20, 2010 at 4:26 am #

    What I think is sad is that parents have to be told how to dress their children for cold weather. Really, shouldn’t that be common sense?

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  53. car review September 9, 2010 at 5:13 pm #

    “With that in mind, we ask that you consider the temperature and weather conditions when assisting your child with clothing for the day.” They need to be told this?

  54. Get Kids Outside February 14, 2011 at 9:41 am #

    Just wrote a post about a similar situation at the schools I work with. They canceled recess for two days in a row, while I decide not to cancel my XC-Ski outing. The kids had a great time and love it.