Living in New York and New Jersey means that families and childcare centers are well experienced with all kinds of weather, from infamously humid East Coast summers, to wet and windy autumns, and cold snowy winters. In many day and child care centers, nursery schools, preschools, and camps, the teaching staff is prepared to take children outside to play in sun, rain, and snow. Some say there is no such thing as bad weather, as long as one is properly dressed for it. Children love sunshine, snowballs and snowmen, and splashing in puddles. It’s a great part of a healthy childhood experience and learning to work with life’s frequent changes.
Occasionally, the weather really is bad. During cold and flu season especially, driving rain and when temperatures are dangerously low and windy or especially hot and humid, little ones really should be indoors. However, even when the weather outside is just yucky, kids still need to play, and they need loud, big, gross-motor muscle building play. Climbing, swinging, jumping, running, and tumbling. Kids need to get their sillies out and use their muscles every day, otherwise teachers and childcare staff run the risk of a boredom inspired mutiny at school and afterwards, and no one wants that.
When selecting a childcare center in a place that experiences all four seasons of weather, parents should be on the lookout for an indoor gym and indoor play options for those cold heavy snow and rain days. Not every nursery school, preschool, or childcare center will have the space for a full-on indoor gym. It is important to ask how the staff plans to provide physical play in the event of weeks of indoor winter playtime. When it comes to winter school break camps with elementary aged children, it is even more vital that big kids have an exercise outlet.
An indoor gym can be as elaborate as a room dedicated entirely to gross motor play, with an indoor play structure, featuring a climbing apparatus, slides or swings, tunnels, perhaps even tumbling mats or a slackline, and a flooring surface safe for running and dancing. These indoor gyms are a lot like outdoor play structures, except that they can include a wider variety of play materials as they do not need to be weatherized for constant outdoor use. All centers in the Prime Time Early Learning family feature beautiful, fun, and functional indoor play spaces.
Barring the availability of a fully dedicated indoor gym, a great school will make do and get creative! Parents can look at these makeshift indoor play spaces to get ideas for ways to keep children busy and healthy at home, where the weather is also not ideal. Teachers and staff may dedicate one room for the duration of a stormy week or two, and empty the space for raucous play by putting furniture and other materials in storage. Using cushions and crawling tunnels, kids can have a place to tumble and build forts safely. Teachers can lead fun yoga games in a “Simon Says” format, or have a freeze dance party. Above all, parents should ask about and look for centers with a plan in place for long days indoors at their child’s learning environments.
Prime Time Early Learning Centers offer a play based curriculum, and value the ability for kids to develop their muscles, coordination and group play skills by spending time outside in big functional playgrounds. Prime Time Centers also all offer large equipped indoor gym rooms, where children can run and climb when the outside weather is too extreme to go outdoors. Our indoor and outdoor playgrounds provide climbing structures and opportunities for kids to build forts with crates to engage in creative play. Our trained and caring teachers use balls, hoops, scooters and other play items to stimulate kids imaginations and help them learn rule based games. In 2016, Prime Time Centers in Paramus, Farmingdale and Edgewater added new outdoor water play areas with sprinklers to their playgrounds. Our East Rutherford Center features a huge indoor play area, in a former High School auditorium space.