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Outdoor Preschool: How to Dress for Hours of Rain & Cold

I’ve shared here before that our son goes to an all outdoor preschool, but only briefly.  In case you missed it, let me say it again. Our son attends a preschool 3 1/2 hours a day, two days a week which, aside from the bathroom, has absolutely no indoor facilities.  And, yes, we do still live in Seattle where it rains approximately 9 months a year.

Are you shocked?  Think I’m nuts?

I wasn’t so sure in the beginning either but, let me tell you my friends, putting C in this school is one of the best decisions we’ve made as his parents so far.  He is completely thriving and we couldn’t be happier.  I could talk and talk about the benefits of outdoor preschool that we’ve already witnessed first hand, as well as how and why we came to choose one.  So I’ve decided to do just that (sort of) and write a small series on the topic.

Today, I’m starting with the biggest question I faced once we started seriously considering an outdoor preschool:

How do you dress kids for hours of rain and cold?


I teamed up with my friends over at Polarn O. Pyret to answer just that question.  Do you guys know them?  They have top-of-the-line outer wear for kids and when it comes to rain and cold, they don’t mess around. Seriously, if you need winter gear for the kiddos, I’d highly recommend checking them out.

And go now – they have a great 25% off outerwear sale going on thru Sunday, October 21st!

Above is a fun video/stop-motion hybrid I put together displaying everything I learned from them about dressing kids for rain – in 55 seconds flat.

Polarn O. Pyret’s motto pretty much says it all:

There’s no such thing as bad weather, just bad clothes.

They mean it too.  In fact, it was through my collaboration with them on this same topic last year that I was first introduced to the concept of all outdoor schools. The company is based in Sweden, where outdoor preschools and kindergartens originated, so if anyone knows how to dress for this environment it’s them.  Which is exactly why I called them up and asked for their help.

They kindly sent us everything we needed to keep C warm, dry, and happy in every type of weather. They taught me the key to conquering rain is lots of appropriate layers.  So now, every preschool day, we undergo the following five steps to get C ready:

  1. A warm wool underlayer, tops & bottoms – These are basically long johns made from very soft “no itch” merino wool.  We learned at preschool orientation that wool, NOT cotton, is the best base layer because it absorbs water and allows the body to stay warm when wet.
  2. Rain pants & boots – Rain boots were a given to me, but rain pants?  Once I was introduced to these I wondered how we’d survived so long without them.  Partially made of polyurethane, they repel water fantastically and kind of remind me of fireman pants.  They’re also built to last forever. The size C has is 2-4 years and with the adjustable suspenders, waistline, and elastic over-boot straps I know they’ll last us for years.  They’re perfect not only when it’s raining but also when everything outside is wet because it just got done raining.
  3. Windfleece Jacket – The thing about rain is that sometimes it shows up when it’s really cold, and other times the temp. isn’t actually that bad.  That’s where the layers come in.  The idea is to bundle them up in lots of warm, thin layers so they can strip them off as needed.  We’ve had this jacket for over a year and love how durable and warm it is.  C also really loves the thumb holes in the sleeves.
  4. Rain Gloves – More rain gear that I didn’t even know existed!  These are waterproof but lighter than traditional snow gloves, making them great for keeping little hands dry but still usable in the rain.
  5. Wind & Waterproof Shell – Finally, you need to top it all off with one last thin, warm, dry layer.  A high quality shell layer is a must.

That’s it!  Follow these 5 steps and your kiddos will be all set for hours of play in the rain (just like mine).

You don’t have to get these items through Polarn O. Pyret of course.  However, as someone who’s been outfitting my kids with their outerwear for the past 2 years, I do highly recommend them.  We love the durability of their stuff, which really lives up to their mission statement:

We believe in good looking clothes that let children be children. Clothes should withstand wear-and-tear and become part of your family; from brother to sister, cousin to cousin.

Beyond that, they also have a lot of extra features (over-boot stirrups, thumb-hole sleeves, and snow locks on pants and jackets) to ensure that snow and rain just don’t get in.

Plus, they’re having that fabulous 25% off sale on outwear.  Take my advice and stock up now!

P.S. I’ll be talking about how and why we chose an outdoor preschool next time but if you’d like to read up on the topic in the meantime, you can do so here, here and here.



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