Monday, July 8, 2013

Teacher Tom: Rending Ribbons

Teacher Tom: Rending Ribbons

This is a little off season, but I loved the way he writes about our need to take care in how we react and regard weather in front of our kids. Everything he says reflects my own attitude. If our children hear us grumbling about the rain, or huddling under a tree in the cold with our arms crossed and head down, how will they ever be open to playing outside in weather that isn't absolutely perfect? 

Coming from Seattle, we learned to enjoy the rain and the cold and the clouds as much as the sun and the warmth. If you don't, you quickly realize you can't go outside for most of the year. So you adapt. And you love it! But for places that get lots of Summer and clear days, they may not get the chance to experience this opportunity to open their minds to the possibilities of being active and playing outside in (nearly) all weather. 

When we first moved here we were shocked to see no one outside when it rained. No kids or adults playing in the puddles or in their backyards. Everyone seemed to hide inside on cold days, rainy days, cloudy days, stormy days, windy days.  The ironic thing is that children rarely care about the weather, until their parents care about the weather. If we censor our own negativity or worries we'll see they are happy to play outside in all the elements, and if we're really willing to set aside our own prejudices about weather, we'll find we can enjoy it, too.   

Here is an excerpt from the ever eloquent Teacher Tom:

It can be a tough climatic transition this time of year here in the Great Northwest, especially this year with our extended summer followed by a relatively mild, dry fall, but the cold and rain are upon us now and staying active while outdoors is important.

For better or worse, we're raising our children on the site of an ancient rain forest. If they don't learn to be outdoors in the elements, they aren't going to get outside much at all. Learning to stay in motion, while also intellectually engaged is one of the keys. Bodies and brains in motion create warmth. That and proper clothing.

But conditioning ourselves for the weather is psychological as much as physical. I've been reminding parents to pay attention to their own self-talk, about how our children often take their cues from us about how to feel regarding things like weather. If you call it "nasty" or "yucky" or "miserable," it makes it that much harder to get some kids to want to be outside. This is especially true of 2-year-olds who really don't yet know it's "bad weather" until we tell them.

I try to encourage words like "brisk," "refreshing," and "dramatic." I urge parents to try to at least affect enthusiasm for being outside, to keep their own bodies moving, and to avoid standing around with their arms crossed, shivering, hiding out under trees and awnings. And to wear proper clothing!

One of the great advantages of being raised around here is the opportunity to develop the physical and psychological robustness that characterizes us. We're known for our fashion casualness, something foisted upon us by the necessity to dress for rain and cold.

There is no bad day for rending fabric to make ribbons, but there are better days, like when the sun barely rises above the horizon and we don't really see it anyway because it's behind rain clouds. It keeps us moving, it keeps warm. And, of course, it can't be said often enough: there is no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothing.

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