Outdoors in the Rain
After running a forest/eco-school for nearly a year, I find myself talking about the rain a lot. In hindsight, I laugh at my running in the rain article - who would know two years later, I'd teach in rain for 5 hours straight?
But this article is coming right on time because Gather is entering our fourth season - SPRING - rainy season. And we have full intention of being 100% outdoors every day.
First, let me give context, we have spent EVERY single school day & some Saturdays outside. We have not used an indoor shelter for longer than 10 minutes. We have also not had a "snow/rain/rough weather" day.
So what DO we do when it rains at school? The straightforward answer is that everyone gets wet.
We are outside:
playing in the mud (mud pies anyone?!?)
splashing in gigantic puddles
looking for worms
taking wet hikes
talking about the water cycle
painting under a dry tarp.
We treat rain as we do any other weather. We avoid labeling rain as "bad," "indoor weather," or "sick inducing."
What if it's also frigid? We've had those days.
First, we ask that children come dressed in warm layers with waterproof outerwear. We do the same. Clothing makes ALL THE DIFFERENCE. If you aren't dressed for winter - five hours outside in winter rain ain't fun. But then, we adapt to the conditions by putting up shelters. Children can eat and do crafts under the tarp or tent. We also enjoy a cozy fire - typically, we bring our dry wood and fire starters for misty, drizzling cold days. Discussions on warming kinetic energy that circulates blood are excellent for chilly days.
But yes, on warm rainy days - the biggest issue is being covered in mud at the end of the day.
Would we ever cancel? Like is there weather that's not suitable for the outdoors?
Yes. Now, if it's at school, we'd rather switch locations (a location with shelter if needed) than cancel. Because honestly, water seems to penetrate even the best waterproofs in torrential rain or powerful winds when trees and branches might blowdown. There is also the rain that just won't let up or when you have a child who hasn't got enough layers on, refuses to wear their coat, or doesn't have a very waterproof jacket in frigid rain - in these situations, it's best to stay inside or cancel the day's events.
However, wet weather can provide excellent delight and challenge kids' resilience. It's also a great lesson that there is no such thing as bad weather - we can have our favorites, but we can also have fun when it's raining or snowing. It's also a good reminder for us as adults. In my running in the rain article, I discussed sticking to my running schedule even in the rain. I acknowledged that in my mind rain meant avoiding the outside, but pushing myself past that was actually pretty okay...lol.