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Tough love in a cold climate

Rugged-up Finn Conlan isn?t exactly a picture of enthusiasm during outside playtime at Blue Gum Preschool.

Rugged-up Finn Conlan isn?t exactly a picture of enthusiasm during outside playtime at Blue Gum Preschool. Photo: Katheirne Griffiths

The forecast lows are below zero, and there are even hints of snow in the Canberra air over the next few days; the capital is one place in Australia that when people complain "it's freezing", it probably is.

So for many Canberrans, winter is a time spent mostly indoors.

But the children at Blue Gum Preschool can be found embracing the conditions, no matter what the weather sends their way.

At the community-based not-for-profit organisation in Dickson, students spend all day Wednesday outdoors, rain, hail or shine.

According to the forecast, next Wednesday it could be as cold as minus 1 degree in the morning, or as warm as 14 degrees in the afternoon. That's a little better than weekend forecasts which, at the time of writing, had Saturday as a cold minus 4 in the morning, and an unpredictable forecast for Sunday, which could even bring rain or some snow to the region.

Education director Michaeli Hillam said the school taught there was no such thing as bad weather, just inappropriate clothing. "If you're a three-year-old that lives in Canberra, how are you ever going to be able to understand or participate in a Canberra winter if as soon as it gets cold you're shut up inside with the heater going, and as soon as it gets warm again you're able to go back outside," she said.

"You never actually experience the outdoors."

Ms Hillam said the Blue Gum philosophy was to treat children as responsible, resilient and resourceful.

When outdoors, they spent their time looking after the campus hens, feeding them and collecting their eggs, working in the vegetable garden, climbing a tree, drawing or playing sport.

But as the preschool runs on an "emergent, negotiated" curriculum, every day is different.

Ms Hillam admitted the children did sometimes feel cold, but they warmed up once they started to play and get involved in activities.

Parents too had raised concerns about the children being outside all day when it was cold. "It's about us educating the parents to move from the notion that they need to be inside because they're little and we need to protect them, to that they're actually competent and capable, so let's see what they can actually do and what they can learn from being outside in winter," Ms Hillam said.

Canberrans hoping to spend time outside at the weekend could need a back-up plan, as Bureau of Meteorology forecaster Sean Carson said the weather would be hard to forecast. Cold air from the south will create a low pressure system off the coast, which will then send moisture inland. It could mean snow along the Great Dividing Range - but it would more likely be somewhere such as Orange or Armidale than in Canberra. The prediction of showers for Canberra on Sunday was a "50-50" call.



  • I think this is disgusting ! If a parent did this at home Family Services would be investigating !!! Also I was under the impression that everyone had a human right to choice...doesn't that apply to little ones ???? Very much an example of adult making poor choices for vulnerable people ... Great article for where NOT to enrol your child !!!!!

    Date and time
    June 21, 2013, 12:14PM
    • "...everyone had a human right to choice"

      Where does it say that? the ICCPR? ACT Human Rights Act? where?

      Date and time
      June 21, 2013, 12:52PM
    • Kids are too soft these days, I say embrace it! Make them stronger and more resilient!

      Date and time
      June 21, 2013, 8:48PM
  • Michaeli Hillam,

    You are a legend. Well done. Kids these days need a regular cup of concrete, and you are providing it in a thoughtful and purposeful way.


    Date and time
    June 21, 2013, 12:29PM
    • There's been a massive snow dump in NZ and we're getting frosts in Melbourne. We may be in for a good snow season. Yippee!

      Date and time
      June 21, 2013, 4:02PM
      Comments are now closed

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