Wednesday, August 11, 2010
Children have to play outdoors!
Yes, this is one of the most important principles of parenting in Norway. Children should play outdoors, at least once a day, and preferably, all day.
This is no matter what the weather is like, you just dress them accordingly.
It goes for schools and daycare centers too. Kids are outdoors as much as possible.
When we lived in France and in the US, I learned that other cultures don't feel the same way, especially when weather is concerned... Well, on this part, I agree with the Norwegian way. Weather shouldn't keep you from being outdoors. So, in this country we are lucky to have easy access to all kind of weatherproof clothes for kids and adults, whole jumpsuits which are both wind- rain- and snow-proof,boots for wet weather, boots for cold weather, boots for wet AND cold weather, wool tights and shirts for warm layers, fleece jackets to have between the wool layer and the outher layer, hats, scarves, gloves, you name it.
But, when the weather is rainy, cold, snowy etc, it's understood that you are outside for a little while, then go back inside. Another scenario alltogether when the weather is considered good. Then it's almost a sin not to go out there!
It's so all-important that kids play outdoors, that if they choose not to on a sunny Summer day, it's close to catastrophic. "What! You are in your room!?! But, the sun is shining out there, get out immediately!"
I don't agree with this. Yes, of course, fresh air and some sun is good for you, but the indoor climate in our modern (Western) homes are not that bad! (I wonder if this obsession with being outdoors comes from the times when Norwegian houses were tiny and crowded, and with wood stoves and no ventilation, so you really got sick from sitting in there too much...)
Don't get me wrong. I love being outdoors. I enjoy my garden, I walk a lot, use my bike, and I take my kids hiking, swimming, blueberry picking in the woods, or just hang out on our porch or in our back yard. But, since I was a kid, I've also loved typically indoors activites, as reading, writing, drawing etc, and if I could (can) choose, I would prefer to stay indoors. And, even among adults, that's not always highly regarded, since it's better to be able to say you've spent your day off outside, no matter what you were doing, than inside your house. I totally believe in people being active, moving, walking; and TV, computers and other screen activities represent a huge health hazard, I know that. But, that factor put aside, I feel it's too bad when creative kids are cut off from their work (=playing, crafting), just because it's better to be outside doing something else!