It’s raining and early childhood educators everywhere are dreading the long day ahead locked inside the four walls of the classroom…. or are they? Do you keep children (and educators) couped up inside during wet weather? Why? Is it because of the pressure from families or management, fear of getting sick or because rain is the perfect weather for ducks not children.First things first, rain doesn’t make you sick. Germs make you sick so unfold your arms and let’s look at rain from another perspective – step out from under your umbrella and feel the rain on your face. I mean really feel it. It’s exhilarating! Have you ever watched a group of children running around, palms face up to the sky, smiles spread on their faces, embracing the rain? If you have, I bet you couldn’t resist the urge to join in the fun! Children need educators that can celebrate weather in all its forms and enjoy the simple pleasures of jumping in puddles, dancing to the rhythm of the rain and exploring the world when it’s wet.
Rain changes everything! The dirt that was rock hard from the sun is now sludgy, oozy, and slippery and feels great between your toes. The soothing sounds of water running down a causeway like a river and the movement as it dances and darts around rocks and obstacles in its path. Racing leaves down the river with your friends and throwing stones into puddles trying to see who can make the biggest splash. The smell of rain on freshly cut grass or even as it hits the concrete after a hot day. Colours change as the rain hits the leaves, grass, dirt, bark, and sand. Everything appears more vibrant. It’s a wet, watery, wonderland.
Now, I’ll be the first to admit that I didn’t always embrace the rain and see it for it’s possibilities and opportunities for learning. It wasn’t until I was completing my teaching prac where I was being guided by an early childhood teacher who was trained in New Zealand. It started to rain and rather than calling and herding all the children inside the play continued. The children began taking their clothes off and were running around the playground wearing only their nappies. The smiles, laughter, shrieks of excitement and sheer joy expressed by this group of toddlers was nothing like I had ever seen. Yes, my arms had unfolded and my head was tilted backwards, the rain was hitting my face and the smile spread uncontrollably across my face. This experience has stuck with me and inspired me to see the rain as a friend.
Begin with you. I know it sounds a little selfish but over many years I’ve learnt that if you’re comfortable outside you are going to enjoy yourself, the children will feel this energy and will benefit. Be prepared and dress for the weather. Invest in some puddle jumping gumboots and a serious raincoat that enables you to stay dry whilst having some good old fashioned wet weather fun.
Share your outdoor plans with your families and explain the benefits of learning in nature. Encourage them to provide appropriate wet weather clothing or head to your local opportunity shop and purchase some for your centre. Holt (1964) suggests, children do not need to be made to learn about the world, or shown how. Furthermore he says “They want to, and they know how.” Children learn from anything and everything they see and experience so with that in mind I ask you how else will one learn about the weather if they can’t experience it first hand? Don’t let the rain dampen your spirits and remember you are never too old to jump in a puddle!
“Some people feel the rain. Others just get wet.” Bob Marley
Holt, J. (1995). How Children Fail (4th Ed). Da Capo Press.