Your child will have a peg to hang a coat and bag, and space to put wellies or other outdoor shoes or boots.
Bags, naming clothes, shoes and wellies
Please use a bag that your child can carry and can learn to open and close themselves. Small rucksacks are ideal, especially when children are visiting Forest School.
Naming clothes (labels or a use a permanent pen on the clothing label) really helps us to get clothes back to children. In time it also support children to become familiar with their name.
Children are free to be indoors or outside and many children choose to spend a lot of time outside. It’s fine to wear shoes that children can move easily in and outside in, but it’s important to have wellies as well as waterproofs – please bring these every day or leave a set at the centre. We have small supply of spare wellies, please do donate your old wellies to us.
Supporting children’s independence
We support children to develop their independence by discussing what clothes are needed for the weather conditions, by supporting them put on and take off their clothes and shoes themselves. Of course we provide help as needed, but it helps children to develop confidence and skills if coats and shoes have simple fastenings.
We discuss with children what clothes are needed for being outdoors, with the aim of ensuring that children feel in charge of these decisions and develop the ability to look after their bodies.
If they feel cold outside we might prompt them to think of putting on more clothes. Learning about taking care of their bodies through choosing clothes to keep warm and dry is an important opportunity for learning and independence We take a sensitive approach, observing children’s wellbeing and negotiating with them how best to take care of themselves.
A spare set of clothes
Having comfortable dry clothes to change into is really important. Many children enjoy and benefit from getting messy with sand, mud or water, both indoors or outside, and sometimes this means getting wet or muddy.
We have a limited supply of spare nursery clothes, but in in our experience children feel happier and more self-confident if they know that they can change into their own clothes if they need to.
Keeping warm and dry and comfortable
If you child chooses to visit Forest School, they will experience all types of weather.
We have long experience of good clothes for enjoying wind, rain and mud and staying happy, warm and dry, and we provide all-in-one outdoor clothes for visiting Forest School, which we wash and dry on site.
We take extra clothes, blankets and waterproofs for cold and wet weather.
You might like to buy your own full outdoor kit and we can give you details of the type we have found works well for children at Cowgate.
In cold weather we especially ask that you provide:
- Warm socks to go in wellies, maybe socks over tights – no one likes to have cold feet.
- Hats and gloves
- Warm jumper and coat
- Waterproofs/full body suit
A common concern is this one: “Sometimes our child doesn’t relate how comfortable she will feel with the clothes required to keep warm. So doesn’t want to put a jacket on, then gets really cold.”
We are experienced with discussion and negotiation and many children are persuaded to put on more clothes from watching their peers making different choices. Occasionally a child will feel cold for a short while before agreeing to try out a coat.
Children are never put in a situation where they are in danger of being too cold and always have access to warm clothing.
Every child has their preferences, with some hating hats, and others feeling the cold far more than others and happy to wear thermal vests and long johns.
Please don’t hesitate to ask us for advice.
We recently asked Centre parents views about their experience of being outdoors with their child and we’d like to share a few thoughts from them:
“We mention how the weather looks and ask if the kids want to wear coats/wellies/waterproofs/etc. if they say yes, we put them on, but more typically, we just bring all the extra layers in a bag and put them on when the child requests them (occasionally asking again… and again and again… while we’re out if they want them). it was eye-opening to see the approach at Cowgate where children choose themselves what to wear. it was a personal relief to not battle it out with our kids anymore (“you MUST where a coat because i think it’s cold out!”) and also it was comforting to think of our kids getting practice at sensing from their own bodies what they need” Cowgate parent, 2016
“My child is a girl, there is already too much social pressure to look beautiful and to dress to show off or to get comments about it which is so sad and worrying for me. So I stress her the relative insignificance of clothing when it comes to styling but its contribution to keep us warm and dry. Many days I even open the window before dressing so she can judge by herself what clothes are suitable for that weather. Often she does not want to wear a coat so I let her go out without it and then realise it is really cold and wants to wear it.” Cowgate parent