Have you seen “Snow,” the parody of Adele’s song “Hello,” floating around Facebook? It’s spot on! The song, written and performed by Mary Morris a third grade teacher in Tennessee, definitely brings to life the secret thoughts of teachers everywhere regarding snow days. After all, what teacher hasn’t thought, “I need a mental health day. Please, just ONE snow day”? Every teacher has. If they tell you otherwise they’re lying. Heck, even as a preschool administrator I hope for a snow day now and again, and I still have to report. It’s just the idea of a free day. It’s a glorious thing.
That being said, as a nature-based educator who believes daily outdoor time is not only helpful for child development, but necessary—I cringed at the chorus. Picture it…there I am getting into the groove of the song, waving my hands in the air emphatically singing along, and then, halfway through the chorus, she says it. The line that made me stop, drop my hands to my side, and let out a long sigh. She said, “If I have to keep my students inside/One more time, for recess, I’m gonna lose my mind.”
You might be able to guess what I did next. I shook my iPhone while saying something along the lines of, “Exactly! They should be outside! Have them put on a coat and hat and go outside!” Just as all teachers wish for snow days, all teachers hate when their kids have to stay in for recess—especially for multiple days in a row. Why? The kids are restless, squirmy, and generally lack attention—not to mention some of them get downright cranky.
This leads me to my plea to administrators and teachers everywhere: Please don’t keep children inside for recess because it’s cold or rainy! Of course this isn’t a new plea. Others have made it and I’ve made it many times before as well. Sometimes I’ve heard a response something like, “But it’s cold out.” To which I respond, “Then they’ll need warm clothes.” That is usually countered with, “But children don’t have outdoor clothes.” First of all, I will make another plea to parents—dress your children in clothing appropriate for the weather!
Even after that, what if the children still don’t have the right clothing? Well, if a child doesn’t have a pencil do you send them home for the day? No, of course not! You get them the appropriate tool for their cognitive development. Why not get them the right tools for their physical development? To do this many schools have written grants for extras pairs of rain suits (I highly recommend Oakiwear), gloves, hats, and even boots. It’s also helpful to leave muddy or snowy boots in the hallway and have the children change into “indoor shoes” for inside the classroom. (The janitorial staff will thank you.) These are simple hurdles to overcome in order to provide daily outdoor time for children.
The outdoor recess time, even in the cold and rain, will be greatly appreciated by the students and teachers alike. The extra bonus is the physical activity and time outdoors will also help with their attention when back inside focusing on learning. In other words, with recess everyone wins—the teachers and the children—and no one loses their mind!
Now, back to rockin’ out to this song and hoping for a snow day…