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Parent uproar over rainy day play! HELP!


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As a school nursery we really promote our outdoor learning providing lots of different experiences for the children to take part in. There is an outdoor slot for each group where the children spend some time outside- weather adaptable. On home visits we make this clear to patents that we go outside whatever the weather and children need appropriate clothing (eg waterproofs). We do have some sets of waterproofs spare, but not many. Children also have a spare set of clothes hanging on their pegs incase they get wet. The other day we went outside as we usually do and the rain really came down- we took Shelter- but we did get wet!! When we came in children were changed into dry clothes. The children absolutely loved being in the rain but we werent out long- about 10mins. The day after a parent made a complaint to my head saying that I had made her child ill by taking him out in the rain. I have since spoken to her and reminded her about her home visit and how we had explained our outdoor play philosophy. She said that she did want her child to play outside- and he loves playing in the rain- but she thought that the other day was ridiculous. I'm just wondering if anybody has had similar issues with parents with outdoor play? We are very sensible with it and don't keep children out for long in cold weather etc. and also do our best to dress them appropriately if they haven't come to nursery in the correct clothing. Any help, advice, support would be very much appreciated!

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Do you have an outdoor play policy to refer parents to, I'm afraid that you will always get moans and groans as adults we forget the joy of playing in the rain , some video or photographic evidence to back up your play and reasons why . And lastly you don't get ill from playing in the rain. Colds are viral ! Good luck

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My sister specifically chose her son's Nursery because it DIDN'T have free-flow to the outdoors and offers shortish periods of outdoor play at certain times as the 3-5 room is upstairs. (This is an Outstanding Nursery). Her son loves the outdoors and he plays outside everyday with my sister - they often go for walks in the rain. BUT he has very bad circulation and his hands and feet become very cold very quickly even with gloves and thick socks on. If they go out for a walk he has big fluffy boots to keep his toes warm which he doesn't have in Nursery. However, he would stay out all day if not asked to come in (and has cried quite a few times before because he has been so cold) - so we have to make sure that he comes in after a while.

I too am all for outdoor play but there has been certain days especially this winter where we have had to limit it - including trying to keep the indoors warm as well as we have to keep our doors open while the children are free-flowing for health and safety reasons (and the heating has been a bit unreliable to say the least!) I haven't had parents complaining before (apart from when a little girl kept ruining her shoes by dragging her feet along the ground when she was playing on a trike!) I think you have done the right thing - refer back to what you have outlined previously concerning outdoor play and maybe reiterate to her that you did only go out for a short period of time as that was what was suitable on the day.

One thing that I try to avoid is the children getting their hair wet in cold weather as this is the only thing that may possibly reduce immunity (research has shown).

Green Hippo x

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Thank you everyone for your useful views and comments. We take lots of photos and videos to share with parents. We also have a 'stay and play' morning every Thursday that parents can attend and children can choose inside or outside. We have got an outdoor policy, but I was considering doing a 'parent-school agreement on outdoor learning'? Parents would sign this and it would also state that parents would let us know if they didn't want their child to play outside at any time ( due to illness, feeling the cold etc). This is the first complaint in three years of doing all weather outdoor play? It's just hard to know what to do for the best. I do know that some children would play outside all day- but our outdoor sessions are shortened in the cold wet weather- so that they aren't staying out too long. I just want to make the right decision for the children's best needs and interests :-)

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Oh, forgot to mention that we are not actually free flow, we have two sessions where children play inside/ outside. We did try free flow- but like you Green Hippo, it was too cold indoors and also with just two adults in the setting and the geography of our building and outdoor area- we didn't feel that the children were being supervised thoroughly enough. Children are given the option of indoor/ outdoor- but if they have had one outdoor session, they must stay inside for the second. Whereas if the children want to just play inside that's fine. We do encourage all children to have one outdoor session on a Wednesday though, when we do our garden time.

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If you make your views on outdoor play known before the child starts then surely it is the parents decision to choose your setting or not (like green hippo's sister). Pre-school is not compulsory ! It is important to stress and inforce the appropriate clothing rule too....if children are running around and active with correct clothing then they should not be getting wet or cold. There is a lot of misinformation about getting ill from being outside (except the hair thing!!) this message needs to be clear....parents blaming the outdoors for ill children is not on in my opinion! Scottish outdoor nurseries and our European colleagues would laugh at this ! I do feel that the only parents i have who moan about this are the ones who are working ...so they have to take a day off if their little one is ill.

I don't feel i am ignoring parents views...i tell them my philosophy and they buy into it ( or not) just like i tell them that i do learning through play....they choose me if they agree ...if they dont agree they go somewhere else!

I do feel you need to stick to your guns ...if you have been clear with them then why are they complaining?

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Thank you finsleymaid. My nursery nurse did say that she thought it was probably down to the inconvenience of having to have her child off. I've got some forest school training booked for next Friday and Im arranging a trip there with the children ( and parents) where we will have to be outside for a whole morning!! It will be interesting what happens with that?!

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Thank you finsleymaid. My nursery nurse did say that she thought it was probably down to the inconvenience of having to have her child off. I've got some forest school training booked for next Friday and Im arranging a trip there with the children ( and parents) where we will have to be outside for a whole morning!! It will be interesting what happens with that?!

we are in the forest beginning of March...some of the children will be with me the entire day with a small break in the lodge for lunch...i rarely have issues with the children on these days but i now add a clause to the information that if parents are inappropriately dressed they will be asked to leave!

 

Wildflower....fantastic link thank you :1b

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Wow! Thanks for that Wildflowers!! That's amazing! And that made me laugh about the parents finleymaid!! Thank you everyone, I was feeling a bit down hearted about the situation, questioning everything that I believe in. But I can always rely on the forum to cheer me up :-)

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We're a maintained nursery and have 2 freeflow sessions of about 45 mins each during each session, where children have the option to go out if they want to. If it's really atrocious weather we shift things about a bit and just do 1 outdoor session in the middle, largely due to the time it takes with 2 of us to get them all ready or undone afterwards!

We do get moans - this week we got someone too wet :o ! And we have one parent who repeatedly says her daughter can't go out as she will cough/ get ill etc, which usually means a distressed child as she wants to go out! This is all very well until the adult led activity involves going out- we do actually do outdoor learning too which seems to surprise some parents! ;)

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Thank you Madmum for your post. We are the same really we plan an activity outdoors everyday, so for children who's parents have requested that they stay in- the children do miss put on these activities. I try to explain that we meet the needs of the children and we have a happy nursery with happy children- because they are accessing the areas that they chose- whether they are indoors/outdoors. We do get upset children that want to go outside when parents have requested that they stay in! I suppose it's impossible to please everyone. But I just want to promote good practice with children that are happy, secure and confident with their learning.

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I must admit we are 'quite firm' with our parents and stress we do not have the staffing to look after 'one' child who has to stay inside just because of parental choice.

We are out in all weathers and encourage parents to provide appropriate clothing.

I would say that its been a gradual process in getting parents on board but over the last couple of years i really believe they have seen the benefits far outweigh any negatives in being outside - even in the rain!

We often can have a joke with some of our well known parents that its so fantastic the children can be outside, accessing their environment freely, as when they get to (our) school they rarely go out and sit on their bottoms most of the day... :ph34r:

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Lumpty in terms of clothing - have you ever tried doing a sponsored event to enable you to purchase more waterproofs etc? We have a sponsored event every Autumn term, at the end of the first term to be precise. We found this was the ideal time as families and children were new and were keen to support their little ones.

We have managed to buy sets of raindrops waterproofs, waterproof mittens and fleece jumpers (got these in the January sales in Peacocks); plus we have bought wellie socks too. It might be worth thinking about a fundraising activity in the future and that way you will have all the essential kit you need. We have built this up over time. Another good way is to get families to donate once their child grows out of their clothing. The next thing on our list is to buy children's sunglasses as the winter sun is so bright (when it is out!)

Just a thought but I do hope you sorted. There will always be one or two parents who aren't happy but remember the majority that are. Like Finsleymaid says they 'bought into' your setting so stick to your principles and stay true to your beliefs about the over riding benefits of being outdoors whatever the weather.

For me though I would think very carefully about starting a parental agreement form - it may open a bigger can of worms and lines could become blurred about why some children should be out and when. I think it would be better to leave this alone and leave it to parents common sense to notify you if there child is not up to going out because of xyz.

p.s. wildflowers thanks - now… I'm sure I have a few yellow buckets back at the nursery!

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Thanks Apple, a fundraiser sounds good and we have got lots of donated wellies and some waterproofs- but we could do with more. My head has said that she is going to buy us some sets, but as with most schools our budget is very tight so it probably won't be many. Thank you for your advice on the policy- I think it would open a can of worms! We make it clear on home visits about playing outside, but parents can tell us if their child is ill and wants them to stay inside- so Ive always thought that this was enough. Im definitely going to get on with the fundraiser. Thanks for the great advice

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