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Should Children Be Made To Wear Coats?


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In my setting we are fortunate enough to have an excellent garden which the children (2and a half to 4yr olds) have free flow access to for upto an hour and a half each day.

 

Now the weather has turned much colder I have an issue with coats!

 

I believe that insisting on wearing coats outside (unless its raining) can interrupt a child's flow and diminish their learning experience.

 

An adult can remind them to put on a coat or fleece (particularly the younger children).. but I don't think we should insist on it and refuse access to the garden if a child refuses to wear a coat.

 

In my experience, when a child feels the cold they will go back inside or put on another layer, asking for assistance if they need it.

 

Children are usually very active in the garden, its only the sedentary adults that feel the cold!

 

However, I am having difficulty persuading a member of staff round to my thinking!

 

Does anybody know of any articles or have their own ideas on this issue?

 

Many thanks

Edited by StrawberyTwirl
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Sorry but I think a child should put a coat on if it is cold outside and I would hope that as a parent any staff would insist on my child putting a coat on.

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Maybe this will convince you. Read the first few sentences

 

What is it?

Hypothermia occurs when body temperature drops below 35°C (95°F). Children are most at risk when they've been active outside for a long time in low temperatures, or have become wet (by falling into cold water, for example).

 

 

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/first_aid/proc...rmiachild.shtml

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Maybe this will convince you. Read the first few sentences

 

 

 

 

 

http://www.bbc.co.uk/health/first_aid/proc...rmiachild.shtml

Sorry greenteaaddict, I certainly didn't mean to convey an element of neglect!

I do encourage the wearing of coats... and indeed have sent parents newsletters with the quote

'there's no such thing as unsuitable weather, just unsuitable clothing' and have asked them to support the wearing of an additional layer outside.

 

It is the insisting I have a problem with.

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Hi StrawberryTwirl can I say I agree wholeheartedly with you. From personal experience I found the whole you must put a coat on was really detrimental to my little boy. He attended a setting that insisted he put his coat on when he went out, he never went out!!

He hated putting it on even for me so I made sure he wore three layers of clothes and asked staff to allow him to go out with no coat. He loved it and if he got cold asked staff to put his coat on result no more problems with his coat. Why don't ask if staff would agree to a trial period of allowing children who do not want to put a coat on free access to outdoors? The 'no coats' can be closely monitored.

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I think children need to learn that putting on a coat when it is cold is part of the routine for going outside, dressing appropriately and keeping safe and healthy. It is just a short stop for them in their play, just as going to the toilet is another short stop interrupting their play. They get used to it.

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I see it as a personal care thing. We want children to be independent, to understand their own bodies, to make choices and then we tell them they must do as we say. A child wont willingly freeze. If we provided them with the understanding that the coat is available for when they decide they need it, most will choose to put it on. I have photos of myself and my cousins on a beach in our swimwear while mom and my aunt are sitting with car rugs and headscarves. We knew when we'd had enough and would then grab a towel or blanket.

 

Children are active and so dont feel the cold like the stationary adults do. Why not insist the adults run round and join in with the play? They might need to take their coats off after a while. :o

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I think because we live in a country which doesn't usually have extremes of weather we are in danger of becoming complacent. If we compare the wearing of warm clothing in cold weather to our policies for sun safety perhaps it gives pause for thought.

We all want to encourage children to be independent and take risks, but we also have to teach children how to evaluate risk. We don't send them out to cross the roads by themselves to promote their independence, neither would we let them say no when they need sun protection. We have a duty of care. Children who have asthma especially need to be kept warm in the cold and wind, and wrap up well. I think some outdoor clothing does restrict children's movement and perhaps that needs looking at. Not all children do run around in the cold, they might be playing house in a den or looking at books or drawing on the floor or whatever.

Children have less body fat than adults and need more layers not less. They need hats in cold weather as a lot of body heat is lost through the head. Shivering denotes that the body is loosing heat fast and the body is trying to compensate. Children burn more calories than adults related to body weight, and although exercise does warm up the body, in the cold it is burning up calories to keep the child warm as well as provide energy for exercise. (Have they had breakfast?) We wouldn't send someone up Skiddaw in Winter in just a jumper because they were going to get warm through the effort.

We do say that children don't feel the cold, but perhaps it would be truer to say that they don't notice the cold. I don't think engrossed young children do necessarily recognise when they are really cold. After all hypothermia is something that creeps up without someone realising it unless they know the signs.

If the wearing of warm clothing is part of a cold weather policy then consistent application means that children soon accept that they put coats on. Putting on coats and hats is part of promoting independence. Playing out in the cold, the wind, the ice and snow is wonderful, but there is nothing worse than being cold and uncomfortable and having to go indoors.

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I think coats should be viewed as part of what we do when we go outside and it's cold. We have noticed how quickly some children manage to get their's on when they want to go outside, so I don't think it interupts their free flow.

 

My son has severe asthma and if I thought he could be outside without his coat - and hat and scarf when it's really cold-on at any point on a cold day, I would probably tell him to make sure he stayed inside which would then put him in an awful dilemma between what he wanted to do and what mum had told him to do. Possibly some of your children are the same and know that mum would be annoyed if they went out without their coat?

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Perhaps, StrawberyTwirl, you could get a special outdoor themometer (do they do special ones for children?) and when the temperature falls below a certain temperature as negotiated between you and other staff, then you could have a rule that children must wear a coat outside? Children and staff would then be able to see that it is 'very cold today, so if we want to go outside we have to wear our coats'.

 

Children can get warm running about I agree, but on the other hand as others have said they may not notice when they are getting cold. Also it can become a power thing when they are pushing their boundaries and checking out who is in charge, and I think that children do need some firm boundaries on some things - including keeping warm enough to stay healthy I would say?

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its interesting to read both sides of this topic, as I read strawberry twirls post I thought yeah I agree but now reading Jaquie and others Im thinking uuuummm

 

Im not sure there is a "one rule fits all" on this discusion and I do think the adults have a duty of care to ensure the childs well being,

 

in my own setting children are encouraged to wear coats outside but if they didnt wear a coat, while they are outside in the cold they would be monitored regularly to check they are warm enough and a brought inside after a reasonable amount of time.

 

if the children are running around outside do you stop them taking their coats off when they get warm? I dont think its practical to always insist on coats being worn outside, only monitoring children and teaching them when they need to wear a coat there are risks of children over heating too.

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I agree with Alison, its interesting reading both opinions. I have to say I make children wear coats when they are outside on a day like today. My children automatically get their coats and quite a few of them (including some of my 3 year olds) can fasten their zips without assistance too (I am really mean and insist they are zipped up). Because its also usually cold inside at this time of year (free-flow door always open), my poor children usually keep their coats on inside too. Last week it was a bit warmer and some of my children took their coats off outside because they were too warm. I think it all depends on how cold it is each day. mrsW

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I think it's difficult because a concept like 'cold' is quite subjective. My colleagues vary tremendously in their cold tolerance. So then you find someone insisting the children have their coats on when its 15C outside and I've just walked to the shop with just a cardigan on! So maybe we do need a thermometer for a more objective measure. It's tricky, isn't it?

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I was really cross with the staff at my 3yr old son's nursery for trying to force him to wear his coat. He always chooses to wear shorts and t shirts, hates socks and pants and is very active. At home he just comes inside when he's cold. I think this can be solved with good communication between parents and staff. I'm sure you know which children don't like wearing coats, maybe you could talk to parents - some will say insist they put it on and some will say let them choose, then perhaps you could suggest extra vests underneath etc

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The problem is that children do not know when they are cold. We have to make that decision for them. I think it is negligent to allow children outside without a coat on when it is cold. As was said in a previous post you wouldn't dream of sending a child out in the blazing sun without protection. Children do not notice the cold and before you know it you may end up in a situation where a child does have hypothermia. Then what? Would you say 'Well he didn't want to wear his coat!'

 

Teaching independance is important but we need to protect their health and wellbeing whilst in school.

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it would be interesting know if there are any statistics/research about small children getting hypothermia? Im not saying that children arent at risk but the level of risk needs to be assessed,

 

children have been known to fall off climbing frames and die but we dont stop them playing on climbing frames we just take better precautions likewise children going outside without coats on in the cold can be monitored safely without it becoming an issue of neglect, some coats offer no more pretection than a jumper often the jumper is warmer than the coat so its hard to say that putting a coat on a child is always adequate protection from the cold...

 

children need some calculated risks to learn.

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I think sun protection is different to cold protection. I agree with Weightman that cold is subjective. My mom feels the cold more than any one I know and nearly always wears a vest! But my youngest son walks to school with just a shirt and a blazer no matter the weather.

I also think that if a child is playing and needs to remove his coat he should be allowed to, and I fully understand that those children who arent being physically active might need to keep theirs on. An adult can always be on hand to remind those who remove them that their coat is available if they need it subsequently.

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Unless you are medically qualified to recognise the signs of hypothermia then I don't know how children can be monitored safely. Putting a coat on because it is cold is common sense. No one is talking about wrapping a child in cotton wool, of course children get hurt climbing on frames and doing alsorts of other things. I just think we have a duty of care to the children we look after to take sensible precautions. I think letting children outside in cold weather without adequate clothing is not taking sensible precautions. Maybe you would allow your own children to do that but should you be allowed to make that decision with other people's children?

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If they are brought to pre school in a coat by mum, then we do insist the child wears it.

We dont have free flow play. we all use the park together for out door play.

I would nt be very happy if i sent my child to a nursery, and found out she was playing out in this cold weather with out a coat on, because she choose to. I feel its basic care. But thats just my opinion :o

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I don't insist the children put on coats but I say I think they should because it is cold, then I put on a big cardy or coat and say I am wrapping up when I go outside. One little boy in particular it is best for him to make the choice, I say its up to him but..........he normally comes in pretty quick to get his coat and today he was pleased with himself and he put it on straight away. I do agree that some clothing does hinder play especially big puffer jackets that they can't even move in. despite sending my own children to school with coat, scarf, gloves I saw one today running around in a tshirt.

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what an interesting topic - we are really big in encouraging children to wrap up properly for cold weather in our nursery but often find we have to encourage this with our reception staff. I don't believe all young chidlren are capable of recognising how warm or cold they are or what to do about it - you only have to see all the chidlren with bright red faces still wearing their jumpers in hot weather to realise this. they need the prompt of being asked 'are you hot - what do you think you should do then?'.

it is a slightly subjective topic but if i feel cool then i will ensure i ask all the chidlren palying outside if they are warm enough and if they need their coats on. but once it gets cold we do insist on coats on before you go out and i have sent parents home to fetch coats. i'm afraid some parents rush out in the mornings, travel by car and don't think about their chidl playing outside for long periods. if a child is very active outside and we can plainly see they are getting hot then i would allow them to take the coat back off.

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It was 7C/44 F at lunch time and by 3 o'clock was 5C/41 F where I live, and that is without wind-chill. Young children are vulnerable, as are older people, and should be protected accordingly. I agree that there are days when once children get really warm they want to take coats off, but that is not the case with really cold weather like here today.

 

I am wondering if Surestart or the HSE etc have any guidelines on this. If you Google it you get lots of guidelines for other countries, but they do get spells of much colder weather.

 

I think you can compare it with heat and sun protection, after all sunstroke is extremely dangerous and sunburn can cause cancer in the long term. They are risks we can plan for, and not to protect a child from the sun is neglectful, because an adult can take control. We know that the child will get burnt if we don't. Climbing is a different kind of risk taking, we plan for the risk, accidents sometimes happen, but they are not a certainty. Hypothermia is a risk we can avoid by keeping warm, therefore that would not be an accident.

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I think this is one of those issues you have to judge on a day to day, child by child basis. I dont think anyone would dream of sending a child outside without adequate clothing if it was really cold. You would judge it as you judge other things in our line of work - with a bit of common sense. If it's really cold and you think children should have their coats on then they should, if its just a bit chilly then maybe not. Alot of children are sensible enough to know when they need a coat and will put it on or ask for help. You know the children you look after and know who needs extra help and support in judging if they are cold just as in all other aspects of the provision.

We had a girl at preschool today turn up in her pjamas! we sent mum back to get her coat and she also bought in pants and tights, obviously when this little girl turned up outside later on in the morning i sent her back in to another member of staff to put more clothes on. We also had another boy with no coat, but he had about four other layers of clothing on, i spoke to him about feeling cold and kept my eye on him while he was outside.

Also i think it depends how long children spend outside, if its free flow then they may come outside for 5 mins go back in for 10 then come back out for 10 then go back in for half and hour etc.. coat on, coat off, coat on i can see that this would be a bit annoying for the child and could disrupt their play.

It is a very interesting subject though and it has made me think about what we do and if it is the right thing.

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A subjective subject, I just want to applaud all posters on the supportive, sensitive, considered opinion forming debate. :o

The way everyone has responded to this has made me proud to be an FSF member.

All contributions being very valid, I think Emma has made a good conclusive comment (being that's the last one I've read).

 

The opinions have valued all concerns, acknowledged the care needs and childrens rights to choice and all show a truly professional attitude.

 

It would be interesting to see what an 'outdoor' policy looks like, but it will differ and be unique to each setting and will change depending on individual childrens health needs and abilities to make informed, adult supported judgements.

 

Peggy

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The problem is that children do not know when they are cold.

 

I'll have to disagree with you there! I had a boy come over to me today (whilst inside!) and say to me "Where's my jumper? I'm cold" having previously taken it off because he was too hot! So some children will know when they're cold.

 

We generally have no problem with children putting their coats on, we often get the "I don't have a coat today" but when we go and check there's their coat on their peg, and then they put the coat on! We do let them take their coats off, but they go on the fence and are often put back on after a while when their play has got less physical.

 

 

And to whoever said about getting the adults to run around, and quite often I get chased around the garden and I do end up taking my coat off cause I'm so hot! :oxD

 

 

Mrs Weasley :(

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I was talking more generally Mrs Weasley. Of course some children do know when they feel cold but some children don't. Also some children are so involved in their play that even if they do feel cold they don't want to interupt their play by asking for their coat on. I think we have to be sensitive to the needs of all children. Hypothermia is a risk factor in the young and the old. It just may be too late when some children feel cold and start shivering. I am sure the risk is small BUT I for one wouldn't want to take the risk of a child suffering when it was totally preventable. Also I do think if people are considering allowing children the choice and making this decision for themselves they need to make sure parents are totally ok with this. A policy is needed and everyone should be in agreement.

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I visited Helsinki in april and was told there that the ruling is that children can play outside to a temperature of minus 8. If it goes below that children have to stay inside. needless to say ALL children that I saw outside were dressed in all in one suits with hats and gloves - none without!!

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