Teachers not taking kids outside daily because it is too cold - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 113 Old 12-14-2007, 12:00 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My dd mentioned that she is upset when it gets cold out because the teachers say that it is too cold to go outside for recess. She says that they get to play games inside instead which just isn't as much fun.

We are in the South so we have had very, very few mornings under 36 or so and it warms up quickly. I am from up North so we never missed going outside no matter how cold-we just bundled up.

I feel like my dd really needs the outside time and I dress her appropriately for the weather. I feel this is just because the teachers don't want to be uncomfortable standing around and watching them which doesn't seem fair.

Would you raise this as a concern or just let it go since they are having free time? I worry that some of the children aren't able to come to school with the appropriate clothing and maybe that is the reason??
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#2 of 113 Old 12-14-2007, 01:26 PM
 
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It's that people in the South don't have to dress properly for cold so they never really learn how to do it. There's a wonderful children's park here that closes when the temperature is below 45F because it's 'too cold for small children' which, since I grew up in Michigan, find to be totally insane.
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#3 of 113 Old 12-14-2007, 01:35 PM
 
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We are in the South so we have had very, very few mornings under 36 or so and it warms up quickly.
so you're talking 0-2Celcius & they're not taking them outside because it's too cold.lol

It isn't just the activity the kids need, they need the FRESH AIR.

The kids are kept inside when the temp drops below -13(-25C). My kids still walk to school when it is that cold or colder. They're just bundled up. When they were kept inside for 3 days 2 weeks ago OMG!!! I coach my 9yo's basketball team. There were 7 out of 10 kids on her team at practice that night. It took 3 of us coaches 15 minutes(out of a 1 hour practice) to get enough energy out of these kids that they'd listen. We ran them hard that night.lol

At 0-2(or 32-36F) all they need to stay warm is a Jacket, with a sweater under if it isn't lined. A hat if it is windy. Light Mittens.

I would definitly go to the school, but first check the school policies. Here it states that the kids are inside if it is lower than -25 with the windchill but they did start sending the kids out for a few minutes at a time just to get something out of them when it was a bit warmer. They were bad that day at practice I couldn't imagine 250 of them for 7 hours.lol
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#4 of 113 Old 12-14-2007, 01:35 PM
 
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This reminds me of a synogogue program I used to take my kids to when they were toddlers. The person running the program never took the kids to the playground when it was too cold for her, and whenever she did take the kids outside, it was too hot for me to be outside comfortably. So, my kids never got to use the playground at all.

The playground was locked so we only had access to it when the teacher took the kids there- but since this was a group of toddlers I couldn't let my kids go outside without me.

That being said, I would talk to the school and ask them about their policy. Do they have an indoor gym where kids can run around and play, or do the kids miss out on physical play when they're kept indoors? If it's the latter, I'd complain and request a change in policy.

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#5 of 113 Old 12-14-2007, 01:46 PM
 
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Since you mentioned not having appropriate clothing I would look in to that issue before making a huge fuss. I know for people coming from or living in a cold climate the idea of not having a warm jacket isn't something they can comprehend, but if it's an issue for some of these kids then maybe the teacher is doing the best he/she can. Where we live if it got down to freezing the only people that would be outside would be those trying to save crops from freezing. We might be a bit further south then your talking about though.

I know where we lived in LA many schools didn't have recess when the weather was cold because so many people across the parish could not afford a warm jacket for their children. Knowing how poor most of the south is I'm inclined to think it would be similar throughout much of the south. I know of charities that just work on getting warm clothing for kids in the north, but don't know of any down here.

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#6 of 113 Old 12-14-2007, 01:51 PM
 
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Geez. I would have an issue with that. We're going through a spell of highs in the low 20s and they still send the kids out to recess. I think kids need recess as much as they need other things. But I do make sure my kid has his big warm coat, gloves, hat, everything he needs. And they're not really out there long enough to get frostbite or anything.

I'd talk to her. Or the other parents.
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#7 of 113 Old 12-14-2007, 01:57 PM
 
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I wouldn't make a huge fuss because I think that there is a cultural difference about cold weather - or, rather, what constitutes "cold weather" - in different areas of the country.

I've worked in schools in both California and Michigan; there was a huge temperature difference over staying inside/going outside between the two areas. Trying to force the issue of going outside would probably bring parents out of the woodwork saying it's too cold and demanding that their kids stay inside.

I like the idea that there is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices, but that's a personal philosophy to which not everyone subscribes.

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#8 of 113 Old 12-14-2007, 05:59 PM
 
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Hmm... growing up in WI, if the wind chill was below zero, we'd have indoor recess (morning/afternoon recesses would be in our classrooms, lunch recesses would be in the gym). It wasn't an individual teacher choice, it was a district-wide thing. Everyone was outside or everyone was inside. Here in AK, it's not really a school issue, because we don't have a playground (no solid non-tundra ground upon which to build one, and our school can't afford to barge in gravel to make a pad for a playground).

I'd at least inquire about the procedure for cancelling recess. It should be a school-wide decision, not an individual teacher thing. It's probably a student clothing issue... but I don't think it's an unrealistic expectation to expect parents to send children to school clothed appropriately for the weather. After all, they have to be outside to get to school, don't they, whether it be on the walk to school or the wait at the bus stop?

Then again, I'm the kind of teacher who would MUCH rather they go run around in the fresh air (even if it's a bit nippy)... we get so much more done if they're a little pooped out. Besides, kids look cute with pink winter cheeks.

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#9 of 113 Old 12-14-2007, 08:36 PM
 
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Most districts have policies about going outside when it's cold. Also, if most kids show up without gloves and hats, then they can't go, so the whole class stays in. :
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#10 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 06:11 AM
 
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I have to laugh - we go out til -20 F.

Find out the district's policy, then talk to the teacher and the principal. Yes, different areas of the country vary on what "cold" is, but it's a health issue, too. Kids need fresh air. With the way the climate is changing across the country, people are going to have to adapt.

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#11 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 06:26 AM
 
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Originally Posted by psyche View Post
I wouldn't make a huge fuss because I think that there is a cultural difference about cold weather - or, rather, what constitutes "cold weather" - in different areas of the country.

I've worked in schools in both California and Michigan; there was a huge temperature difference over staying inside/going outside between the two areas. Trying to force the issue of going outside would probably bring parents out of the woodwork saying it's too cold and demanding that their kids stay inside.

I like the idea that there is no bad weather, just bad clothing choices, but that's a personal philosophy to which not everyone subscribes.
I wouldn't call it a cultural difference so much as a regional one.
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#12 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 11:40 AM
 
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Also remember a lot of people think that you get sick from being cold, which is a misconception!

When I worked in daycare, we would be chastized for letting the kids go outside because "they'll cathc a cold or pneumonia from the cold weather." My boss caved to their wishes.
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#13 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 11:53 AM
 
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My dd's school takes them out as long as it's above freezing. The only other time they'd stay in is in the rain. They've sent multiple reminders about sending your kids to school dressed for the weather. They have to be wearing snowpants/boots to play in the snow, and if they just have sneakers, have to stay on the blacktop.

I would contact the teacher/school about it and ask to see their cold weather policy. It doesn't sound to me like keeping them inside in your school is really justified.

And about affording coats, etc. You can usually find them pretty inexpensively at Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. Also, it's easy to layer. A shirt, sweater, hoodie and fleece will keep you just as warm as a shirt and coat. You can get mittens at the $1 store and most jackets/fleeces/hoodies have hoods if you don't have a hat.
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#14 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 11:57 AM
 
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I wouldn't call it a cultural difference so much as a regional one.
You have obviously never moved from California to Michigan.

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#15 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 12:01 PM
 
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Also remember a lot of people think that you get sick from being cold, which is a misconception!

When I worked in daycare, we would be chastized for letting the kids go outside because "they'll cathc a cold or pneumonia from the cold weather." My boss caved to their wishes.
It's not a misconception. Being cold lowers your body's immunity and can throw off your body's homeostasis. There are germs in and on and around your body at all times, so just being exposed to germs isn't what makes you sick. It's when your body's homeostasis is thrown off and then you become to one of the many germs that was always there.

Don't know if I explained that well enough, but you can find lots of articles in Mothering that support this concept.

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#16 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 12:03 PM
 
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I agree with the differences! The schools here don't close even if there's 2 feet of snow on the ground - when I was in Memphis a few years back, they shut down the town for a half-inch of snow! Jeez, we had a whole month where it barely went above -17 and I think the schools might have closed down one day - but everyone walked there the rest of the days!

:

I also agree with the "cold=sick" perception. I still can't convince my sister that *viruses* cause colds, not wet hair outside!
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#17 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 12:58 PM
 
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I would talk to the school about it. This would bother me. Unless it's below 45 degrees and windy or rainy or snowing then they should go outside, even if for 15 minutes.

My kids go outside daily, even when "I" feel it's probably too cold for them to go outside. I can see where the teacher probably hates standing around in the cold watching them play, but I think even 15 min would make most kids very happy if they get that much time outside. I think it's good for them. I can't imagine any teacher not wanting that time to just let them run and let off steam.

I can see where some parents would be afraid kids would get sick outside in the cold. It does lower your immune system so it makes you more likely to catch something or if a child is already coming down with a cold or has something already then it could make them worse being outdoors in the cold. You very seldom hear of people getting sick in the summer months you know. So the cold DOES have something to do with lowering your immunity.

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#18 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 05:09 PM
 
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My son's K teacher said she often had children without proper/warm clothing (it's very cold here). They didn't head to the playground much once winter came.
Inexpensive coats and gloves may be readily available but I don't think it is the teacher's responsibility to clothe the children.
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#19 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 06:54 PM
 
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I think there should be a district wide policy regarding how cold (or hot) is too cold (or hot) for outdoor recess.

When people in the South are used to 60-80 degree weather in December (it's about 60 here today, the 'coldest' it's been in weeks), then 30 degrees really DOES feel like ice. I think it's about what you're used to more than anything else.

There's also the issue of unpredictable weather here. I might send my kids to school and the temp is 45 when we leave the house. By the time I pick them up at 2:45pm, it's 80. How do you dress for that? The idea of layering is nice and all, but our classrooms just aren't set up for 22 kids to come in several layers of clothes that all have to be shed by noon every day.

The worst days IMO are where it's 60 when you leave the house. Dress kids in jeans, long sleeve t-shirt, maybe a light sweater....

And the temp drops to 30 by lunchtime. Lovely.

The weather in the South is just *different* than the North. We're not used to bitterly cold winters, so to us, 30 degrees *is* very cold.
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#20 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 06:58 PM
 
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I agree with the differences! The schools here don't close even if there's 2 feet of snow on the ground - when I was in Memphis a few years back, they shut down the town for a half-inch of snow! Jeez, we had a whole month where it barely went above -17 and I think the schools might have closed down one day - but everyone walked there the rest of the days!
Ah, but we typically get ICE in the South, not snow. And we aren't equipped to handle it in terms of clearning off roads either, so the number of wrecks is astronomical simply because people aren't used to driving in icy/snowy conditions. It's safer to shut down the schools for what amounts to nothing up north because it happens so infrequently and it's just dangerous when you're not used to it.


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I also agree with the "cold=sick" perception. I still can't convince my sister that *viruses* cause colds, not wet hair outside!
Go back up a few posts and read the explanations on cold=sick. You are absolutely correct in that it takes an actual VIRUS to cause a cold, not just being outside with wet hair.

BUT....

Exposure to cold lowers the body's ability to fight off infection.

So, really, both of you are right to a certain degree.
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#21 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 07:32 PM
 
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And about affording coats, etc. You can usually find them pretty inexpensively at Goodwill, Salvation Army, etc. Also, it's easy to layer. A shirt, sweater, hoodie and fleece will keep you just as warm as a shirt and coat. You can get mittens at the $1 store and most jackets/fleeces/hoodies have hoods if you don't have a hat.
You've obviously never shopped at thrift stores or $ stores in the south.

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#22 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 07:39 PM
 
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There seems to be a big issue here with people from cold climates thinking things are done the same in warm climates. It's just different. There are probably temps that you think are warm when every child in my dd's school is wearing pants and possibly light jackets. There are also probably temps that you think are far too hot for anyone to be out in that no one would think twice about having the kids out in. When your body and mind are used to one set of things as being normal it can be very hard to see that it's not normal to everyone. We live in a duplex that does not have a working heater. That seems perfectly reasonable considering where we live, but I am digging out space heaters for a couple nights this week when our lows will be around 50.

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#23 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 08:50 PM
 
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What we from cold climates can't understand is why a child can't have a coat and go outside. That's all. Fresh air is a necessity for children.

Jenn
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#24 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 09:09 PM
 
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I always feel too cold. : No matter what. And the teachers don't get to warm up by running around- they have to stand still to watch. Well, I have to run after the kids who have fallen, while the older teachers supervise holding their coffee thermoses. : But I do think kids need to run around a little bit. Maybe they can use the gym more for things like S.P.U.D., rope climbing and net climbing, etc, so they get their exercise even if it's cold.
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#25 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 10:37 PM
 
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Well the school here that my DD goes to (in NC, so "The South"). All the kids go out everyday regardless of the temperature. We actually went to visit the school last year to check it out on the coldest day of the year last year. I think it was a high of around 30 couple, no rain or snow, just cold. All the kids and teachers were out playing.

They do have lots of warnings to make sure to dress the kids for being outside, if it's cold, raining, etc. I don't see dressing for winter much different then dressing for rain. She needs boots, coat, hat for the rain, just warmer ones for the cold.

The littles ones at school (3 year olds) start the day outside. So it's usually way colder for them then other students. They play for about an hour first thing in the morning before heading in for inside play, and art and stuff.

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#26 of 113 Old 12-15-2007, 11:50 PM
 
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I think some research in to poverty levels in the south might be in order to understand how people might not be able to afford a coat. As I said before I have heard tons about winter clothing drives up north. In all my years living in LA and now FL I've never once heard of any programs to provide jackets or anything of the sort for children or adults. If you had to chose between keeping the power on and food on the table or a jacket that might be worn for a few weeks which would you pick?

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#27 of 113 Old 12-16-2007, 12:15 AM
 
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As a teacher in the DC suburbs, I will tell you our district policy is if it is below freezing we don't go out. I love taking the kids out and I don't mind the cold (neither do my colleagues) but is a problem when kids are sent in with a light fleece coat and no gloves, no mittens, and no hat. Quite honestly, in my opinion, it isn't a teacher problem but an overall parent problem. We cannot take children out when most are not properly dressed.

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#28 of 113 Old 12-16-2007, 12:18 AM
 
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Most districts have policies about going outside when it's cold. Also, if most kids show up without gloves and hats, then they can't go, so the whole class stays in. :
:

When I was in school, there were lots of times we didn't go out b/c of the cold. Especially if you are in a poorer district, many of the kids don't have the proper gear. They can get plenty of fresh air before and after school.

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#29 of 113 Old 12-16-2007, 07:27 AM
 
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What we from cold climates can't understand is why a child can't have a coat and go outside. That's all. Fresh air is a necessity for children.

Jenn

As others have explained, poverty is rampant in much of the South. Why spend money on a coat that may or may not be needed at all when you know that food and ultilities will be needed regardless.

My kids have a variety of coats, including appropriate wear for very cold weather should it occur. Last winter, we had one ice storm where the schools were closed for a couple of days. Mine were able to get outside in appropriate coats, hats, mittens, etc because we can afford to buy these things.

The reality is, not everyone CAN afford to buy these things, *especially* considering these items may not be needed at all for the entire 'winter'. The coats and accessories that my kids wore last winter on the coldest days (10 days tops) easily cost us over $100 on sale at Costco. That's a lot of money for most families to put out for the few random days it's cold enough to warrant such coats.

As for layering, most people in the South simply do not own a lot of stuff like this. We manage just fine 95% of the time in jeans and long sleeve t-shirts with maybe a light jacket, if that. People just don't put a huge priority on buying a lot of true winter clothing for a handful of days each year.

Add in that most people in the South simply are not used to very cold temperatures.

Like someone else said, people from the north might be appalled at how hot it is here in the summer when that's just our reality. It's got a lot to do with what you're used to.

A funny aside...

My DS was born in Hawaii. When we moved back to TX, he was barely 3. We got off the plane and it was in the low 30's. He starts visibly shaking and says 'Mama, why is it so COLD in Texas?' He was ready to go back to Hawaii that morning. By noon, though, it was 60. Of course, he still thought that was frigid. It was just such a shock to his body.
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#30 of 113 Old 12-16-2007, 07:32 AM
 
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You've obviously never shopped at thrift stores or $ stores in the south.
Very true.

And even if there was an abundance of winter coats and such at thrift stores, the poorest of the poor STILL aren't going to spend what little money they have on something that may or may not be used AT ALL during the 'winter'. IF the stuff is used, it's for a VERY short amount of time, so it's just hard to justify spending much on it. I even have a hard time each year spending money on heavy coats knowing how unlikely it is that my kids will need them, and we have plenty of money to buy such things. It just seems so wasteful.
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