Why kids at this daycare nap outside all year round
Initially the idea might sound a little irresponsible, but children at this childcare centre have been taking their naps outside throughout winter and the benefits are surprising.
Little Learners in Perth introduced outdoor napping with its kids aged 2 to 5 earlier this year and have continued the practice through winter. The decision was based on studies about the benefits of resting outdoors.
Numerous ongoing researchers from a wide variety of independent organisations have demonstrated the significant benefits of children spending extended periods of time outdoors in nature," a post on the daycare's Facebook page reads.
"For example, children have better brain development, bone and muscular development, social and cognitive development, better emotional wellbeing and less illness. Here at Little Learners… we believe that this includes both physical and sedentary activity such as sleeping outdoors."
The children are encouraged to sleep outside all year round, but parents are given the choice as to where their kids sleep, and of course the children are closely supervised. And if it's raining heavily or the temperature hits outside 16-31 degrees, they head for shelter inside, too.
Outdoor naps aren't a new idea, and in countries such as Denmark, it's standard practice to have babies sleeping outside in their prams, even in the depths of winter.
Little Learners had been conducting its own research as well. With children sleeping outside during winter, they have found that over the past 11 weeks they have had 15 absences due to common colds out of 1790 attendances.
That's a rate of only 0.84 per cent of children being absent due to a cold in winter. I know my own kindy child could almost blow that statistic out of the water single-handedly, without the help of other kids at her daycare centre.
Little Learners acknowledges that 11 weeks is not long enough to draw comprehensive conclusions, but they're happy with the start they've made, and they genuinely believe outdoor sleeping has made a difference.
Some theories on why outdoor sleeping helps kids to stay healthy include that air conditioning dries their sinuses, leaving them open to infection, as well as the dreaded recycled air churning those germs through the room and sharing all the viruses around in one great big melting pot.
Little Learners also says the children who sleep outside are better rested, which leaves them more alert and ready to learn.
The staff take their children's safety seriously, ensuring the weather is not too hot and not too cold before allowing the children to sleep outside.
The children always sleep under shade, and wearing hats – and they sleep under tarps if it's drizzling (children are moved inside if it rains heavily). And on higher UV days, children are also required to wear sunscreen.