How to Dress Your Child for Forest School
Your little one will be learning through play in all kinds of weather, so proper clothing is very important. Additionally, a complete spare change of clothes should be included in their daily backpack. Please label your child’s clothing with their name!
Dressing in layers allows for changes in weather, temperature, and activity. Layers are looser which allows for better circulation and movement, and also provide further insulation in cold weather by trapping air.
For cold and rainy/snowy days, we recommend at least three layers:
-a base layer against the skin to wick moisture. Make sure this covers arms, legs and torso. If possible, choose silk or merino wool. Avoid cotton; it absorbs up to 27 times its weight in water, which rapidly draws away body heat.
-a middle layer to insulate. Wool or fleece are preferable. This layer can be expanded into several layers of thinner material for extra-cold days.
-an outer layer to protect from wind and water. Coats should be well-insulated and ventilated, with hoods and adjustable sleeve ends. Rain pants can be worn over insulating layers in the snow!
Hats, scarves and mittens are recommended. Again, wool is the best choice, followed by synthetic blends- avoid cotton. Balaclavas are great because they don’t fall off of exuberant children as easily and cover the head, face, and neck in one piece. Mittens are better than gloves at retaining body heat. Make sure mittens are made of Gore-Tex or a similar waterproof material. Layering can also be done with mittens; thinner gloves or mittens can go inside waterproof mittens.
Boots should be waterproof and a half-size to a full-size bigger than the child’s feet, to allow for layering of socks. If they are too tight, restricted blood flow can make the feet colder. Good boots are waterproof and lightweight, with non-slip soles for good traction. “Wellies” or thin rubber rain boots are not insulated and not breathable- these are better for rainy days in warmer months, not for wintertime.
A tried-and-true New England method of keeping feet dry in winter boots is to put plastic bread bags on over socks, and then put boots on.
Fully waterproof one-piece rain suits are great for rainy days throughout the year: https://www.amazon.com/Splashy-Kids-One-Piece-Rainsuit/dp/B00UXK3TCS
These can easily accommodate layers underneath for colder months, and are light enough to be comfortable during warmer months.
For warmer sunny days, please be mindful of whether a light outer layer may be necessary. The forest can be several degrees cooler than the city, even on a hot and sunny day.
Appropriate sun protection can include hats, sunglasses, and sunscreen, depending on each child’s needs.
During warmer months, we may play with water and splashing in the shallow creek, so water shoes or sandals can be helpful! We allow children to go barefoot and shirtless if they wish, unless parents specifically request otherwise.