Page G4 of the Best Practices Licensing Manual For Family And Group Child Care Homes contains licensing regulations and guidelines regarding outdoor play.
The Regulations state:
The Guidelines include;
This has been an extremely harsh winter. So far there have been sixteen days that were too cold for us to go outside to play. That is well above the two days we had to stay indoors last year and this year isn’t even over yet. Still, I know providers who have only been outside a handful of times this year – probably due to the source of their weather information.
The chart below shows a small excerpt of data I’ve been collecting to compare the conditions at three different sites – the Winnipeg Airport, The Forks, and the weather station in my back yard. All of the conditions were recorded at the same time on the specific day during a two week period. The ‘Feels Like’ temperature is the wind chill effect – a combination of temperature and wind.
As you can see here of the six dates shown there were four days that would have been too cold to play outside at the airport or The Forks but only two days that were too cold in my yard. I even have my weather station mounted in the windiest part of my yard – high on the pergola, above the height of the shed or garage where there is the the most wind and the least amount of shelter.
Yes, if your yard is a wide open field with no shelter from the wind then the weather conditions at the airport would be similar and therefore a good source of weather information. If you don’t have your own weather station there are many other options available besides the airport or the Forks. Weather Underground lists 26 weather stations in the Winnipeg area – just click on the ‘station select’ button and find one near you that has a similar environment to where you go to play.
That way the children have the opportunity to learn from experience. They can notice that it feels warmer when they stand in the sunny area than in the shade. They can discover what objects offer the best protection from the wind. They can experiment and instead of standing at the window ‘looking’ at the cold they get a chance to ‘feel’ it. Even if it is only a few minutes before they determine it is too cold to be fun and we head back inside. It is still a better learning opportunity than using a screen to tell you it is cold outside.
We’ll continue to play outside whenever possible because we certainly don’t want to be stuck indoors all day every day. However, there is one thing we don’t miss this year – waiting for the school bus. Luckily I don’t have to walk any children down to the school bus stop this year. Standing at the corner waiting for the school bus is a totally different experience than playing outside and we don’t enjoy it much. They don’t cancel the school bus until the wind chill reaches -45°C. There are a lot of cold days that the buses are running – they’re just late so we have longer to wait outside.