And November goes,
With the last red berries
And the first white snows.
With night coming early,
And dawn coming late,
And ice in the bucket
And frost by the gate.
The fires burn
And the kettles sing,
And earth sinks to rest
Until next spring.”
― Clyde Watson
November says goodbye to autumn, and December welcomes the first cold snap, suggesting that the arrival of winter is upon us. It plays with our senses and forces us to adjust our wardrobes, vacillating between the cozy sweatshirt and the heavy coat. Rain and snow play games with one another as temperatures rise and fall for no apparent reason. It’s the introduction to flu vaccines and mothers worrying about their children getting sick. It’s the tug of war between parent and child concerning what outer garments are necessary to don before emerging from the house. We often note the retreat of children to the indoors, safe behind their books, video games, and television screens. Yet, it’s the perfect time to be outside!
Children are accustomed to playing outside in the temperate months. It’s comfortable; many sporting activities are held outdoors; and parents tend to organize picnics, hikes, or nature walks that encourage family members to spend time together. Many community events are held outside, creating a fun and interesting array of activities in which to engage. Much of that disappears when the temperature drops—hence, kids retreat to the indoors.
Autumn and winter provide a new environment in which kids can explore. Nature offers an array of new patterns and colors to notice and animal behaviors to observe. There is an opportunity for children to use their imaginations and create original games to play. What can they do instead of retreating to their screens? If never encouraged, kids will avoid the challenge!
Parents are often concerned that their children will get sick from playing outside in the frigid temperatures, but it is actually trapped germs and bacteria inside our homes that are often the culprit.
Plus, kids need exercise! There is still a need to burn energy after a long day of learning, usually inside, at school. The outdoors provides the perfect environment in which to run, yell, laugh, and play with friends. Games can be organized, such as kickball, hide and seek, or newly invented ones, according to the whims of the players. The possibilities are endless.
Bike riding, rollerblading, skateboarding, and hiking are all viable options in the colder months. Once the snow appears, sledding, ice skating, snowboarding, and creating snowmen or snow forts are fun possibilities, too. For the more artistic child, there are winter crafts, photography, drawing, and nature walks to enjoy. It’s not all about sports, but it is about being outside and using the muscles in our bodies, as well as the muscles of our minds.
Encourage your children to spend time outdoors during the next few months and, whenever possible, spend time outside as a family. How about an outdoor campfire and s’mores? Those sticky treats are not just for summer! (And parents have an opportunity to teach their kids about fire safety and wilderness activities, too.)
For more information and ideas for cold weather activities, you may want to check out the following articles: