Wednesday, January 26, 2011

How Cold Is Too Cold To Play Outside?

A friend recently passed along a petition noting that many Montgomery County public schools keep elementary school children indoors when the temperature is 32 degrees or below. I'm sure there's some temperature below which it's not reasonable to have outside recess. But is that temperature really 32 degrees?

In my quick check of recess policies that are online, there are lots of school districts that require a coat below something around 50 degrees, and a hat and gloves below 32 degrees. They don't move recess indoors until it gets even colder: 20 degrees in some districts, or even zero in some places. What do you think the cutoff should be?

Here's a link to the petition calling for 30 minutes a day of active, outdoor recess in Montgomery County -- even below 32 degrees.

Snow in South Park (3)
Try telling these kids 32 degrees is too cold to play.
Photo credit: kamshots


Froggie said...

Growing up in Minnesota, we never really had a "cut-off". Even if the temp was 10-15 below (and believe me, there were days it the HIGH temp), we still had recess outside.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like typical fear of litigation to me. Don't let anyone outside while there could be ICE... a kid could fall down while playing outside.

Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

Froggie, I remember the same from my elementary school days in Illinois (before a fortuitous move to FL)...not to mention the miserable early morning waiting for the bus. We'd hide behind the sign for our neighborhood to get out of the wind. I'm sure it was well below freezing many of those mornings.

As for litigation, it wouldn't surprise me if that's playing into it. This is the same school district that thinks it's dangerous to have food gardens on school property.

Hiking Along said...

I don't agree with the rule but know it is in place based on two reasons stated by our principal: children from low income families often times don't have the proper clothing and reason already mentioned safety due to icy conditions, although ice/snow is sometimes present. Parents have helped building service workers to clear ice and snow.
Good news - MCPS is slowly moving in the direction of allowing edible gardens on school grounds. The will pilot container vegetable gardens this spring and are encouraging school communities who want to plant vegetables and have the parent support to request permission from MCPS to do so. Last night, MCCPTA passed a resolution supporting edible gardens on school grounds.

Chef Shannon said...

In Norway, many of the preschools are outdoor all year long. The kids go into a teepee for some shelter, but they are literally outside all day. Check out this documentary:

My daughter's preschool takes kids out for 30 minutes out of a 3 hour class EVERY day, rain or shine.

Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

Ok, I'm not going to push for outside, all day, every day, but couldn't schools do something to collect some extra coats and hats and gloves?

Anonymous said...

The Chicago Tribune just did an article on this very subject. The schools they surveyed had cutoffs in the zero to 20 degrees range. And one stocked 50 extra coats for kids to use!

Elizabeth | The Natural Capital said...

Thanks guys for the links. Shannon, that video of outdoor preschool was pretty amazing.

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