The hot weather doesn’t come around too often in England, but when it does, the many months of rain and cold don’t tend to prepare us and the children very well for when the sun beams out this time of year.

Similarly to when there’s a bit of a drizzle and we must work with the children to remain active in the rain, when the temperature rises, we must take specific measures and ensure we’re keeping an eye on every child and their reaction to the hot weather. Here, we’ll run through some things to note with children when the sun is out.

Firstly, Keep an Eye on Every Child

A child won’t tell you when they’re dehydrated or suffering from a bit of heat exhaustion, mainly because it’ll be something new to them and the signs of such issues are hard to spot without them telling you directly. Headaches, flushed skin, dry lips, and lightheadedness are common issues when the sun comes out, so make sure you’re watching each child closely.

Ultimately, just keep an eye on whether they are acting outside of their norm. A more lethargic approach, less effort, constant thirst, and other things like a change in their attitude (perhaps more snappy), are other signs a child is being affected by the heat in a negative way.

Sunscreen

Don’t think because your child is in school that sunscreen is waiting for them, because it’s probably not, and the affects of staying in the sun for the hours they’re at school can still cause issues. Taking into account break times, lunch, after school clubs, playing outside after school, and P.E classes that are outside, your child could be in the sun throughout much of the day. Prepare accordingly.

Hydration

It goes without saying, but it needs to be echoed during these hot days more than ever: stay hydrated. It’s rare you’ll see a child carry around a water bottle with them like adults do, mainly because they are unaware of the importance of extra hydration during these sunny days. Whether this be scheduled water breaks during a lesson, or extra water during their lunch; it’s our job as educational practitioners that we are ensuring children are drinking more water than usual and not just expecting them to drink.

Children ages 1-3 need approximately four cups of water per day, and five cups for those ages 4-8, and 7-8 cups for those in year 5 and 6 (Rethy, 2020).

Clothing

Children hate wearing coats in the winter because they feel ‘warm enough’, despite the fact it obviously isn’t. In the summer, you’ll spot the odd child who comes out with a coat or jumper, and then heads back inside with a face like a tomato and early signs of heat exhaustion. If you see children wearing too many layers, speak to them and ask them why – it is not OK to be wearing so many layers and running around.

The extra layers likely need to be removed, even if they are not active. What’s more, many adults don’t encourage sunglasses this time of year, and obstructing eye protection in the sun is not advisable so do consider the importance of sunglasses for children.

Take Breaks, Head for the Shade

If it’s too hot for you, imagine how an energetic child half your size is feeling. Take regular breaks, and take more breaks if the children requests them. For example, a warmup in the winter could be 10-15 minutes long as you’re already battling against the cold, but in the summer, you’ll find that no more than 7-10 minutes is needed for a warmup with the children getting tired faster and warming up quicker.

Ultimately, when the sun is out, don’t hesitate in taking a break every 20 minutes or less if needed. Five minutes in the shade/inside while drinking some water is the healthy way to go. If the weather is that hot and/or the children under your supervision are clearly too hot, even consider doing the entire session in the shade if possible.

References:

  • Rethy, J., 2020. Choose Water for Healthy Hydration. [online] HealthyChildren.org. Available at: <https://www.healthychildren.org/English/healthy-living/nutrition/Pages/Choose-Water-for-Healthy-Hydration.aspx#:~:text=To%20stay%20well%20hydrated%2C%20children,8%20cups%20for%20older%20children.> [Accessed 15 June 2022].