With the current heatwave the country is experiencing, we have noticed on countless early years forums, comments asking for ideas on activities to provide and opportunities within the environment that will support the children in this weather. We ask ourselves why does this sudden rise in temperature cause practitioners such levels of concern?
As with everything we do in regards to our practice and provision, we keep it simple.
As professionals, we can be guilty of overthinking our environment, learning opportunities and activities. As a sector, we seem to have lost the fluidity and spontaneity that Early Years professionals have always been renowned for.
Adverse weather (whether it be too hot or too cold) cause us to dread our working day, instead it should inspire us to provide a range of stimulating opportunities for our children that will not only challenge them cognitively but will also support their physical needs as temperatures climb higher.
The summer period and particularly temperatures such as the ones we are currently experiencing are a great opportunity for children to learn how they can look after themselves in the sun too. This in itself provides learning experiences whilst providing the children with essential life skills and knowledge.
Allowing the children to apply their own suncream whilst talking to them about the dangers of the sun and why we need suncream are incredibly beneficial skills and knowledge they will take with them through childhood, similarly in regards to understanding the clothing we need to wear to protect us from the sun.
During such weather we should also reflect upon our physical environments, both indoor and outdoor and how we can alter, set up and ensure these are suitable and supportive of the children’s needs and their learning and development too.
We all know that the hottest periods of the day are between the hours of 11am and 3pm and so we also need to be thinking about how this fits with our daily routines and how we can amend our routines to ensure we aren’t exposing children to the sun at the hottest times of the day.
As practitioners we should be flexible anyway, but particularly during adverse weather. You know your environment best and so ask yourselves:
- what areas get the most shade?
- at what times of day?
This enables you to set up your areas as a result of this, as well as preparing your indoor areas to ensure it is cool for when the children return inside.
Similarly, if you choose to go on an outing during this weather;
- are there opportunities for shade?
- Is there access to water for children to cool down in?
These are important factors to ask yourself when planning outings.
As practitioners we can sometimes forget that learning can happen everywhere. And so learning experiences and activities can be adapted and move both indoors and outdoors and vice versa, and so if the weather is too hot for the children, move your activities inside.
Similarly, if the children prefer to be outdoors, move your planned activities outside and incorporate these into your outdoor play!
Recently we have adapted our provision to facilitate the rising temperatures by:
- Adding numbers to our paddling pool
- Made sensory soup in our mud kitchen
- Moved our tuff spot play onto the floor to enable the children to actively play in the water as they used different sized containers for emptying and filling as they worked together to make the water wheel work.
But again, putting the sprinkler or hosepipe on is not only a quick and fun way for children to cool down, but also a simple learning opportunity that can be set up in seconds from the comfort of your own home/setting.