Getting kids outside in winter

Even if this is a mild winter here in D.C., we’re still likely to have days when the school officials decide it’s too cold for kids to go outside to play. In fact, that’s already happened at my kids’ school! And yet, we all know that gross motor activity and connection to nature are super important for little beings, and really for all of us! So how to we make sure outdoor activity happens when temps our low?

For those with kids in public school, find out what your school district’s recess policies are – both for the amount of time kids of different ages are supposed to be outside and also policies about inclement weather. Then talk to your school director or principal to find out what is really happening and how decisions are really getting made! We would love to hear your comments below! Just because our kids aren’t used to temps below 20 doesn’t mean they don’t need to move as much as kids who are outside in the cold all the time in colder-clime locales. You might want to share with them this article about a Texas school that tripled children’s recess time, with great results.

If there is an issue of children being inadequately dressed, talk to your PTA about doing a winter clothing drive or to your principal about making lost & found items available for children during the school day. Share other ideas in the comments.

If you are just looking at preschools, consider one that makes a commitment to get children outside regularly. Check out this post about “Outdoor-Happy Preschools” I wrote in 2014 at and let us know in the comments who we should include when we do an update!

Support the work of NoVA Outside, an alliance of environmental educators, for programs that promote outdoor learning. If you have a child in grades 3-8, be sure your school knows about the School Environmental Action Showcase on April 6!

In Arlington, a new group is forming to promote school gardens, as we wrote about in December. The issue about a proposed outdoor learning and schoolyard garden coordinator for Arlington Public Schools was picked up in the Washington Post, too! Click here for the article by NoVa mom Bettina Lanyi. The group behind monthly school garden meetups has its first newsletter out: ComPOST!

Also in Arlington, the School Health Advisory Board has among its agenda items for the year to look into recess. The next APS SHAB meeting is January 20 at 4:00 p.m. Click here for more info.

If you’re in another school district, find out what the governing body is that deals with wellness in the district and if there’s a wellness council in your school. And share with us what you learn! We’re always looking for guest posts, especially by parents in DC and Maryland.

And if you’re a homeschooling family, you probably already have your finger on the pulse of activities in Metro DC. If not, check out our Around DC page for lists of links for communities and groups. Here are sites with guides to local activities and opportunities:

There are also blogs & sites with a regional focus:

Print publications

And the daily deal site: Certifikid

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Jessica Claire Haney is the founder, publisher and editor of Mindful Healthy Life. She is a writer and editor and a co-leader for theArlington/Alexandria chapter of Holistic Moms Network. Her personal blog is Crunchy-Chewy Mama and her writer’s site See the Contributors page and Jessica’s Mindful Healthy Life Q&A for more on Jessica.



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