Bright Ideas

5 Pro Tips for Water Wear


The Nature Preschool at Irvine Nature Center

The Nature Preschool at Irvine Nature Center

Rain on the grass
Rain on the trees
Rain on the rooftops
But not on me!

Rainy days keep a lot of kids indoors, just as puddles are forming, worms are emerging, the ground is softening, and lots of other things are happening that are ideal for young kids to explore. The challenge, of course, is that rain is wet, and wet kids might be happy in the rain, but they can be uncomfortable when they come inside.

So we asked some of our nature preschool friends for their best tips for keeping kids comfortable outside on a rainy day.

1. Gear Up

"Rain pants, rain coats, and rain boots are staples of a nature preschool classroom," says Dr. Patti Bailie, former director of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center Preschool and a consultant, teacher, and writer for nature preschools. Rain wear is a solid investment for any parent, and teachers that want to help parents out with the cost of the extra gear have been known to frequent thrift shops looking for items to keep in a borrowing bin at school. Schools can also ask parents to donate rain wear when their kids grow out of it.

2. Be a Role Model

Children learn from observing their world—including adults. "So it's important for adults to be good role models," says Elise Hansen, director of the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center Preschool. That means adults have to gear up, too, and show kids how it's done.

3. Take Shelter

You don't have to stay in the rain the whole time you're outside. It can also be fun to take shelter, says Sheila Williams-Ridge, Assistant Director of the University of Minnesota Lab School. "Have children find or build shelters in the wooded areas." If you need inspiration, "It helps to talk about where the animals might be during the rain to get ideas about what to build." It can fun—and rewarding—to build shelters from the materials you find outside, but if you're pressed for time, or if your area doesn't have a lot of loose materials for building, you can also bring along a tarp or other plastic sheeting to string up and take cover under.

4. Change Clothes

Even if kids gear up and take shelter, "they still can get wet so lots of extra clothes (especially socks) are needed," says Dr. Patti Bailie. At Irvine Nature Preschool, "The change of clothes are constantly replenished (undies, too!) to keep up with all the fun," says the school's director, Monica Wiedel-Lubinski .

5. "Let 'em get wet!"

Sometimes the most simple solution is the easiest. When it comes to kids and rain, Ken Finch, Founder & President of Green Hearts Institute for Nature in Childhood, says, "Let 'em get wet!" If you're prepared with a change of clothes, getting wet on a warm day is no big deal. Sometimes, it just means getting used to being a little bit messy. Irvine Nature Preschool's Monica Wiedel-Lubinski explains, "We tell parents that we 'get 'em muddy from nose to toes' so they are never surprised to find mud-painted children at pick up."


water, Nature Preschools